June 23, 2016

James Baldwin's former home in Provence

James Baldwin’s former home in Provence

Peter Manseau, the author of One Nation Under Gods: A New American History, asks: “Is Trumpism its own religion?” “Trump, a biblical illiterate, has succeeded so far because his followers believe he is a transformative figure who can bring about national salvation. In an election year full of surprises, perhaps the most surprising of all is that Trump voters are motivated by a kind of faith: They believe in the man, and in his promise that all their losing will come to end.”

On Twitter, Hillary Clinton has revealed herself to be a succinct and witty literary critic: “Trump has written a lot of books about business—but they all seem to end at Chapter 11.”

The James Baldwin Society has called upon “friends in social justice” to help it halt plans to transform the author’s former house in Provence into luxury condos. “Our mission is to protect, acquire and renovate Baldwin’s home in Provence and eventually to create a residency for artists and writers as well as a center for progressive thought and culture…. It was once a gathering place for artists, for people of color, for writers, for intellectuals, for radicals, for people outside the sexual mainstream, for revolutionaries and for lovers. We plan to make it so again.”

Thanks to the success of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Broadway show Hamilton, which won eleven Tony Awards, two books about the founding father have been climbing the bestseller lists. Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, which inspired the musical, has reached number 8 on the USA Today bestseller list—its highest ranking since its publication in 2004. Meanwhile, Hamilton: The Revolution, a book about the show by Miranda and Jeremy McCarter, has risen to number 26.

Amanda Petrusich, the author of Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records, has written an essay on the closing of the NoHo record store Other Music. “There are no record bins anymore—no little plastic signposts signifying content, broadcasting a set of principles, musical and otherwise. Genre itself—or, more specifically, genre affiliation as a means of self-identification—feels like another End hovering in the atmosphere this week. No one is asked to choose one affiliation at the expense of another. Instead, it is perfectly normal, even expected, that a person might have a little bit of everything stacked up in her digital library. The idea of ‘Other Music’ as it was conceived in 1995 is unknowable now.”

At the New York Times, graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel, novelist Justin Torres, and playwright Larry Kramer offer personal reflections on the importance of gay bars.

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