paper trail

Lindy West on "Shrill" in the Trump era; Nitasha Tiku on Mark Zuckerberg's attempts to be likeable

Lindy West

The New York Times’s Jim Rutenberg reports on the post-fact media from Russia, which he nicknames “the land of Alternative Truth Yet to Come.” After Trump launched an airstrike against Syria in response to Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons, some right-wing media figures in the US suggested that Assad’s attack was a “false flag” operation, instigated by rebel groups to trick the Trump administration into attacking the Syrian government. In Russia, Rutenberg writes, that conspiracy theory “was the dominant theme throughout the overwhelmingly state-controlled mainstream media.”

At BuzzFeed, Nitasha Tiku looks at Mark Zuckerberg’s years-long campaign to make himself more likeable. After rebranding his minimalist outfit choices and working to become more personable in interviews, the Facebook founder and CEO now plans to travel to every US state this year, accompanied by a communications professional and Barack Obama’s former photographer. Some onlookers seem perplexed by Zuckerberg’s evolution. “I don’t understand why he sounds like a senator in his fourth term,” said former Obama speechwriter Jon Lovett. But Tiku writes that his new persona makes more sense “if you think of him as the head of a 14-year-old nation-state called Facebook.” “The listening tour and manifesto are an opportunity for Zuckerberg to strengthen his relationship with his 1.8 billion constituents,” she explains.

Lindy West tells the Huffington Post that her book Shrill, published last May, would probably have been “less idealistic” had she written it during the Trump administration. “I feel like I’ve been writing about men being horrible and Republicans being oppressive nightmare people for my whole career,” she said. “And every day under the Trump administration I understand it afresh. Like, oh, I didn’t realize it could actually be this bad.”

Matteo Pericoli reimagines Elena Ferrante’s My Brilliant Friend as a piece of architecture. His design incorporates two buildings that push and pull against each other. “It is evident that if one of the two elements were to be missing, the other would have no reason to exist,” he writes. “Without Lila there would be no Elena, and vice versa.”

Tonight, Albertine bookstore hosts the Albertine Prize Book Battle, in which three members of the New York literary community defend one of three finalists for the prize. Kaiama L. Glover advocates for Ananda Devi’s Eve Out of Her Ruins, Sam Sacks argues for Maylis de Kerangal’s The Heart, and Tom Roberge defends Antoine Volodine’s Bardo or Not Bardo.