Outside Reading — O Ruanaidh edition


As the arrival of Sally Rooney’s third novel stirs up a deluge of swirling opinion silt in the waterways of modern literary culture, Sean O’Neill offers a thesis that seems ludicrously simple and is often overlooked, not only in the case of evaluating Rooney’s work but most current authors. Unless a writer makes their work of fiction explicitly about a geographic region, the influence of where they’re from is often excluded from discussion of the work itself. O’Neill makes a persuasive case that understanding Ireland — as it exists now as opposed to the way it exists in the imaginary lore of James Joyce tomes — is key to appreciating Rooney’s assemblage of words. I especially appreciate that he introduces into evidence the recent Twitter scrum recounting great moments in Irish fashion commentary, which contained a couple of the best punchlines I’ve encountered. This article is published by Gawker.

‘The Contender’ Lit Me on Fire. Now It’s a Cringe Factory. by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

“Beware the movies you watch as you crest the peak of your coming-of-age, at the exact moment when you’re sure you know everything,” Taffy Brodesser-Akner writes in this piece, and it’s possible that truer advice has never appeared in the inky pages of The New York Times. This reassessment of a two-decade-old bigscreen issues drama is a expert piece of cultural commentary, and it has a dose of piquant self-assessment, too.

Sex Is The Enemy Of Good Teaching by Amia Srinivasan

This extended essay published in The New York Times is excerpted and adapted from Amia Srinivasan’s book, The Right to Sex. It is an unusually complex examination of the dynamics at play when professors and students get caught up in romantic intermingling of all kinds, from mildly flirtatious to full on physical contact. It’s a topic that invites blanket decrees. A philosopher by inclination and education, Srinivasan isn’t interested in such absolutes, even as her stance is quite clear. It’s a fascinating, thought-provoking piece. As someone who worked in higher education for almost fifteen years, I especially appreciate the sound wisdom embedded in the closing paragraph’s anecdote. The best compliment I can give to this article is that it prompted me to order the book it’s drawn from.

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