paper trail

A new book on Pussy Riot as protest art; Ransom Center lands another collection of Salinger's letters

Pussy Riot's Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich

At the LA Times, Sara Marcus reviews Masha Gessen’s new book, Words Will Break Cement, about the musicians, activist, and feminists who make up the Russian punk rock band Pussy Riot: “Gessen is not just asking how these women came to form Pussy Riot, or how they came to be punished so severely for making protest art. She’s also asking what makes great political art, and proposing that art and truth-telling have the power to defeat oppressive regimes.”

The Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas, has added another major acquisition to its horde of literary treasures. In addition to the papers of James Agee, William Faulkner, Anne Sexton, Walt Whitman, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, the center, which is housed at the University of Texas, has a substantial collection of material from the estate of J. D. Salinger. This week, it acquired twenty-one previously unknown and unpublished letters, most of them exchanged between Salinger and his great friend Ruth Smith Maier, with whom he shared ideas about work, life, marriage, fatherhood, and his withdrawal from public life over the course of a forty-year correspondence.

On the perils of an ill-conceived tweet.

In Demon Camp, Jennifer Percy follows a soldier as he battles PTSD and tries to exorcise his demons by joining a Christian “deliverance” cult. In Vogue, Percy explains part of her process: “I went through with the exorcism as a journalist seeking to better understand Caleb’s story. I thought the experience might provide more opportunities for empathy. Of course, researching a cult has its problems. You know, since their main goal is to brainwash you.”

bell hooks on the “faux feminism” of Lean In.