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Putting the Pen in Penmanship
A playlist of the week's best new albums, interviews with Mona Awad & C Pam Zhang, an excerpt from David Diop's newly translated novel, new music from Voxtrot & Chelsea Wolfe, and more
I’ve been thinking about penmanship lately. My own and my students. And pens.
Since starting teaching five weeks ago, I have written more longhand than I have in years. My lesson plans are annotated and adapted in my block, all caps printing. So are notes on student papers in class. The students do their work on packets and in their texts, scribbling in pencil from 8 a.m. until the 3:45 p.m. dismissal when they get their phones back.
At first, I wasn’t picky about writing instruments. Then I started writing ALL DAY. I began to realize why teachers are so fond of Flair pens. Colorful and emphatic in line (the medium-tipped ones, at least), I started clipping a couple of these to my lanyard in the morning, replacing misplaced markers at the end of the day.
For everyday writing, I’ve been stocking up on Muji gel ballpoint pens in every color, in both the 0.38mm and 0.5mm widths. Cheap, dependable, and everyday workhorses. When I have to physically fill out reports, or write myself a note, I grab one of these stick pens.
What is your favorite writing instrument?
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A Playlist of the Week’s Best New Albums (11 Albums, 107 songs, 7 hours and 27 minutes)
This week’s best new music includes albums from Lydia Loveless; zzzahara; Slaughter Beach, Dog; yeule; the National; Eartheater; Laurel Halo, CHAI; Devendra Banhart; Wet Fruit; and Föllakzoid.
THE fall beer for me. Dark, rich, and delicious.
Paper Mate flair pens
As the weather gets cooler, I look for heartier beers, and this saison with a touch of smoke hits the spot every time.
Mona Awad on her new novel, Rouge
“Because this book is about beauty, and it takes place in the West, it just felt especially important for this character to have that kind of conflicted relationship with beauty brought on by her mixed ethnicity, and particularly by the fact that her mother is white. And that's where she is getting her first impressions of what beauty is and how beauty is tied to power. That's embodied in the mother's whiteness.”
Growing up, says McCrae, he would sleep fully dressed, ready to run, and developed an obsession with survival. “This sense that everything could disappear at any moment – all of this has to do, I’m certain now, with the kidnapping. The terror of that injury being inflicted again was considerably more significant than the constant sense of danger and threat that I felt being in that house. Which was just my day-to-day life. People get used to all kinds of things.”
Poet Dwayne Betts on his new poetry album, House of Unending
In some ways, we thought of it like old school improvisation. You got somebody with a guitar, you got somebody with some words, and we come together to make something happen. Between what Reed [Turchi] does with the guitar and what I was doing with words, we can let the poetry live in a different space.
Kera Schaley talked to Rolling Stone aout playing cello on Nirvana’s In Utero album
The funny thing about “All Apologies” is Steve kept trying to talk him out of putting cello on it… Isn’t that funny? He was going on and on that he shouldn’t put cello on it. And I think I was being snarky, and I was like, “That’s the joy of multi-track recording, I can record it and you can take it out.” But Kurt and I won in the end, and so I got to play that and that one was really just off the cuff.
C Pam Zhang on her new novel, Land of Milk and Honey
For years Zhang assumed she had to be “all brain and no body” to be taken seriously as a woman writer. Her recent success has freed her up a bit. “Increasingly, I think I have no desire to be an intellectual, which was what I thought I was supposed to be for a long time,” she says.