From Is Sex Necessary? by E.B. White and James Thurber
At Outward, Slate’s new LGBT blog, Masha Gessen explains why Putin’s crackdown on gay families prompted her to leave Russia.
Parks and Rec star Aziz Ansari has signed a $3.5 million deal with Penguin Press to write an “investigation” into modern romance and online dating. In a statement, Ansari said the book would address the “entirely new era for singles, in which the basic issues facing a single person—whom we meet, how we meet them, and what happens next—have been radically altered by new technologies."
Congratulations to Jonathan Lethem for eroding the Gray Lady’s veneer of formality and getting the word “fuck” into the New York Times. While it wasn’t the first time that the expletive has made it into the notoriously curse-adverse paper (in 1998, the Times reproduced the entire Starr report, which included a use of the expletive by Monica Lewinsky), it is one of the first times the word has been permitted. The moment comes on page 86 of the most recent issue of T, the Times’ fashion supplement, which included an excerpt of Lethem’s forthcoming novel, Dissident Gardens.
In the latest issue of New York, Boris Kachka goes hunting for legendary literary recluse Thomas Pynchon. While Kachka doesn’t find him, he does get pretty close: “Now Pynchon hides in plain sight, on the Upper West Side, with a family and a history of contradictions: a child of the postwar Establishment determined to reject it; a postmodernist master who’s called himself a 'classicist'; a workaholic stoner; a polymath who revels in dirty puns; a literary outsider who’s married to a literary agent; a scourge of capitalism who sent his son to private school and lives in a $1.7 million prewar classic six.”
The New York Public Library is installing photobooths at several of its branches, including the flagship 42nd Street branch, and the entrance of the mid-Manhattan Library. The arrangement is simple: “The visitor gets a photo of themselves with their word of choice emblazoned in red and white on the bottom of the photo, and the New York Public Library quite literally gets to put a bright, new face on gathering data from visitor satisfaction surveys.”
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova unearths “vintage sexology” by E.B. White and James Thurber. In 1929, two years after White helped Thurber get hired as an editor at the New Yorker, the pair collaborated on Is Sex Necessary?: Or Why You Feel the Way You Do, which became White’s first prose publication.