The Sunday Post for July 29, 2018

Each week, the Sunday Post highlights a few articles we enjoyed this week, good for consumption over a cup of coffee (or tea, if that's your pleasure). Settle in for a while; we saved you a seat. You can also look through the archives.

This week’s Sunday Post is a recorded message. The Sunday Post is sitting by a river; in fact the Sunday Post has her feet in the river and a book in her hand. But she doesn’t have a cell connection or wifi.

So although this column is supposed to be the best of the past week’s internet reading, that’s not going to work. I’m in a spot where major events include “wow, I really thought that bee was dead!” and “did you see the weird shape of that rock?” — not “HOLY CATS IT’S THE END OF THE FREE WORLD … AGAIN.”

When I took on the Sunday Post, I didn’t read much that wasn’t printed on a page. I didn’t follow Twitter (now I have multiple lists); I didn’t have a newsreader (now it's Feedly, and it works okay, not great). Donald Trump had only just been elected, and the news cycle was only just feeling the first hit of that drug — starting to hear its heart pound in its ears. (Oh, news cycle, we are so, so sorry.) I did not at all understand the river I was putting my feet into.

There’s a lot of great writing on the Internet, and I let a lot of it flow through me every week to try to find a few things other people might want to read too. Sometimes it’s a delight, and then suddenly sometimes it’s not.

It's similar to staying in Elliott Bay or Powell’s for too long — that tipping point between “oh my god, all the words!” and “oh my god. all the words.” Words that investigate politics, the heart, the author’s childhood. Words that profile people and places and animals. Words that are angry — a lot of angry words, these past eighteen months, some restrained and analytic, some furious, some in mourning.

They’re all worthwhile but they’re all coming at us so fast, it could knock you off your feet. I don’t know about you, but I can’t put the internet down. I’m mainlining that son of a bitch.

This week’s articles have all appeared in the Sunday Post before, or should have. They’re the essays that I remember, without looking back at the archives, because reading them was an event, a thing that happened, like the sun startling a bee awake and into flight.

And the words in these essays make everything stop. They’re absorptive in the way that reading on the page is — they aren’t necessarily quiet, but they pull you into that quiet place. These are some of the hardest pieces to feature each week, because all I really have to say about them is: read this.

This week’s Sunday Post says, even more than usual, read this.

In the meantime, where I am today, all the words are back on the page, and their speed is set to the pace of slow, cold water. Hey — did you see the weird shape of that rock? Cool.

The Survivor’s Guide to Kerouac Country

Kate Lebo on Kerouac and book tours and fear and freedom.

I want sympathy. I want to feel safe. I want to explain why I’m not home in my little Seattle fishing village, which isn’t little anymore, which my friends and I helped make not-little before a new cycle of wealth kicked us out and welcomed people who could afford the new cute neighborhood. What am I trying to say when I explain how, while living in that old Boeing cottage, I couldn’t walk into a grocery store without clucking over a baby plant? That I bought peat pots of lemon verbena instead of clothing or art or shaving cream because growing things made me feel good about living alone? That I loved living alone? That I was miserable. I want to explain how strange it is to walk through a garden without mothering. My home is my body, some poem probably goes. No shit. To feel that way makes the road possible.
Nightingale: A Gloss

Paisley Rekdal on poetry and violation and beauty.

Perhaps the greatest desire a victim of violence has is to look, in memory, at that violence dispassionately. But remembering, the heart pounds, the body floods with adrenaline, ready to tear off into flight. For some, there is no smoothing chaos back into memory. Poetry, with its suggestion that time can be ordered through language, strains to constrain suffering. It suggests, but rarely achieves, the redress we desire. Language does not heal terror, and if it brings us closer to imagining the sufferer’s experience, this too does not necessarily make us feel greater compassion, but a desire for further sensation. If we cannot articulate pain beyond inspiring in the listener a need for revenge, we only speak of and to the body.
My Romantic Life

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore on Seattle and San Francisco and — and — and I still hesitate to try to capture this one with anything but metaphors.

The second time I did porn it was with Zee, when we were boyfriends, and I’d just remembered I was sexually abused, so I was taking a break from sex, but then Zee called me to do the video because his costar showed up too tweaked out — I did it because I needed the money, but then Zee got upset when I couldn’t come, and I felt like a broken toy. Which is how I’d felt with my father. When I walked out into the sun after that first video shoot I just felt totally lost, like I didn’t even know where I was and why was it so hot out, maybe that’s why I felt so dazed.
Hello, Goodbye

Jessica Mooney on saying goodbye.

I don’t know how to say what I mean. As a kid, I mixed up the words for things. Cat, I’d say, pointing at an alarm clock. Taxonomy remains mysterious. Walking around my neighborhood, I don’t know the names of things. Sinister witch-fingered bramble. Orange thing I want to call persimmon. The part of the foot that keeps me upright. The sinewy blue veins under the tongue. How do I not know the basic recipe for standing and speaking?

I love you. I wonder if I hear the words in the same place I hold my missing father. My brain’s translation: goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

The Loneliness of Donald Trump

Rebecca Solnit on the story Donald Trump is living inside.

He was supposed to be a great maker of things, but he was mostly a breaker. He acquired buildings and women and enterprises and treated them all alike, promoting and deserting them, running into bankruptcies and divorces, treading on lawsuits the way a lumberjack of old walked across the logs floating on their way to the mill, but as long as he moved in his underworld of dealmakers the rules were wobbly and the enforcement was wobblier and he could stay afloat. But his appetite was endless, and he wanted more, and he gambled to become the most powerful man in the world, and won, careless of what he wished for.
Twenty-Six Notes on Cannibalism

Anca Szilágyi on Goya and cruelty and art.

That giant, lit by the moon, looks over his shoulder somewhat upward, lonesome.
On Being Driven

Hugo House's newest prose writer in residence, Kristen Millares Young, on the weapon of history.

I worried about going to jail on this island, where he would know everyone watching over me inside. Worried even about stepping into the building to make a report. And what would I have said? That we had a dangerous conversation. That he left bruises on my mind.

That I cursed him. That I cursed him, and he believed it. That I cursed his family, threatened to rain down destruction on their black bodies, invoked centuries of white oppression, and he believed me because he lived that truth.

That I would do it again, and again, and again, just as he hoped to do me.

Night Life

Amy Liptrot on what survival requires for birds, and people.

I keep stopping at places where I heard a male calling last year but I hear nothing. In recent years, there has been a slow and steady upwards trend in numbers, and the RSPB’s Corncrake Initiative was a success story. But this year has been very disappointing: the number of verified male corncrakes calling in Orkney dropped from 32 to just 14. Back in the office, sleep-deprived, I fill in zeroes in my spreadsheets. I am depressed about corncrakes. Somehow it is as if my fate becomes intertwined with that of the bird. I’m trying to cling onto a normal life and stay sober. They are clinging on to existence.
Slow Pan

Bryan Washington on finding yourself in the stories on screen.

The audacity required to ask if we need another gay movie, if we need any more gay movies, transcends thinking altogether. It is a thoughtless question. You only ask it if you’ve seen yourself so ingrained into the culture, into the fabric of the world, that your absence from those seams is unthinkable. You only ask that question if you’ve never been repulsed by yourself, or the idea that anyone like you, anywhere, could be happy. You only ask that question if you don’t know what it means to feel like the only person on the planet.