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Oscar Bolton Green for BuzzFeed News

I just finished reading Claudia Tate’s Black Women Writers at Work, a 1983 collection of interviews with Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Ntozake Shange, and Gwendolyn Brooks, among other prominent black women writers. I bought the book, sadly out of print, (though available on Amazon), after reading Kaitlyn Greenidge’s list of book recommendations that we published as an excerpt from Glory Edim’s Well-Read Black Girl Anthology, out now. (I also interview Edim below; check it out!).


I cannot recommend Tate’s book enough. It’s a necessary reminder that so many of the conversations we’re having in 2018 about intersectionality were ones these women were having in the ’80s. The fissures between black and white feminists, tensions between black men and black women, the waning political fervor of the civil rights movement, the whiteness of book publishing and cultural criticism — the women in Tate’s book spoke about all these subjects with nuance and thoughtfulness. They were multi-hyphenates, writing across form — poetry, prose, and fiction. They were hustlers, working as teachers, librarians, editors, dancers, actors, and directors. Many of them were mothers and sometimes wives and partners. They were forthcoming about their writing processes — almost all of them journaled — and about how making time to write inevitably meant not doing housework, not minding children.


It can be tempting to think of this polarizing political era as wholly sui generis. But reading this book is reassuring, not because it suggests that we can’t go backward or that the crises of our current day aren’t pressing. But it’s a sign that there were brilliant women grappling with these same issues and were indefatigable in their quest to keep writing, to keep reading and learning.


And as we approach this season of gratitude, I’m thankful for that.

 

 Tomi 

 

Personal Essays

Jade Schulz for BuzzFeed News

I'm Obsessed With These Ugly Mansions On Zillow by Katie Notopoulous

 

Thinking about homeownership fills me with despair, so I started looking at houses that cost more than $10 million. What I found was tacky, gilded-and-marble joy.

 

Is A Successful Creative Life — Without Kids — Enough? by Shannon Keating 

Private Life and Can You Ever Forgive Me? are two of the most recent movies to make me wonder: As a queer person facing an uncertain future, do I want to have children?

 

Jade Schulz for BuzzFeed News

 

You think you’re drinking soda, but you’re really drinking the history of our country, through sweet bubbles.

 

 Newsletter exclusive: Deputy Culture Editor Rachel Sanders tells us what she’s into

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Nothing primes you to have your heart ripped out like rooting for someone, or something — fully committing yourself to the possibly foolish hope that your horse will win the race, or your team will make the world series, or your candidate will prove the polls wrong. That's why I don't do it very often; I like my heart where it is. But I'm coming around to the point of view that I might be missing out, and I'm here to recommend this to you, too: Find something you can really get behind, and root for it. 

 

Rooting for something is more than just liking or supporting it. I enthusiastically endorse plenty of things, including everything I talk about in this column (dentists, Turkish towels, disco, the Norwegian teen TV masterpiece Skam). But rooting is an act that looks toward the future; it requires you to orient yourself around a possible outcome — the big kiss between two sides of a TV love triangle, Tiffany Richardson making it in modeling - and apply your psychic energy to bringing that outcome into being. 

 

Here's an example: I was not rooting for the feature film A Star Is Born to be a success before it came out. I felt, at best, ambivalent; at worst, cranky and desperate for people to stop posting memes from the trailer. But then I saw the movie (...twice) and I'm sure as hell rooting for it to win Oscars in every category now. Is it a perfect film? No, (but also yes?) but bottom line, its merit as a work of art is almost irrelevant: It's my movie now, the same way Phantom Thread became my movie last year, for reasons I still can't coherently articulate (mostly the presence of Lesley Manville, I suspect). And I want nothing but the best for my movie — glory, awards, acknowledged status as an everlasting classic. 

 

This isn't about having a soft spot for an underdog; A Star Is Born has already amassed an army of die-hard stans and quarrelsome obsessives. It definitely doesn't need me. But there I am on the sidelines anyway, cheering wildly. I would say that I feel similarly about the hot duck in Central Park (may it live long, prosper, and bring forth a whole flock of hot ducklings!). Rooting isn't without emotional risks — it's been a heart-stopping 24 hours for hot duck fans, as well as tough week for the faithful followers of Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum, and Beto O'Rourke — but it gives you something in return: a little golden glow of benevolent intent, directed outward. And when the one you're rooting for does win, the dividends are pure joy. 

 

Features

Timothy Ivy for BuzzFeed News

 

Kiese Laymon Knows His New Memoir Is Raw. But It’s Not Trauma Porn. by Bim Adewunmi

 

With his new memoir, Heavy, the Southern writer cements his place in the canon of American literature.

 

Beto Voters In Texas Aren’t Heartbroken — They’re Ready For The Next Fight by Anne Helen Petersen

 

“We awoke a beast. It’s not going back to sleep again.”

 
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Netflix

 

With so much sex toy variety at women's fingertips, who really needs an artificial man? For more on this, watch Follow This on Netflix.

 

Girl, Wash Your Face Is A Massive Best-Seller With A Dark Message by Laura Turner

 

In her hugely popular book, Rachel Hollis asks women to interrogate the lies they’ve believed about themselves. But what about the ones she’s telling?

 
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Netflix

 

What started out as religious niche has matured into a $250 billion industry designed by and for women of faith who love fashion. 

 

Books

 

Welcome To The BuzzFeed Book Club! by Arianna Rebolini 

 

Join the BuzzFeed community’s most avid readers as we dive into one new book each month.

 

10 Books That Challenge Our Political Landscape By Inventing New Ones by Idra Novey

 

If every news cycle in your country leaves you aghast, an invented or reimagined nation can be alluring. These are the ones I kept in mind while writing my own.

 

Xia Gordon

 

An excerpt from Glory Edim's anthology Well-Read Black Girl.

 

15 YA Books From The ’80s And ’90s That Have Stood The Test Of Time by Gabrielle Moss 

 

These are the books that have aged like a fine wine. (Presented in chronological order.)

 

Ayumi Takahashi for BuzzFeed News
 

Bernice McFadden’s Praise Song for the Butterflies, Vox by Christina Dalcher, and Red Clocks by Leni Zumas dig into the long-term effects of sexual trauma without exploiting women’s pain for entertainment.

 

How Novels Like Circe Show Ancient Stories In A New Light by Mikaella Clements

 

In three recent novels that reimagine ancient epics — Circe, The Mere Wife, and The Silence of the Girls — authors wrestle with both their source material and the centuries of cultural baggage it carries.

 
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Calum Heath for BuzzFeed News

 

The Witch Elm, which follows a privileged man whose life gets derailed, is a timely window into what happens when men lose their precious power.

 

Linda Liang Is 71 Years Old, Divorced, And Getting Back In The Dating Game by Kathy Wang

 

An early preview of Kathy Wang’s debut novel, Family Trust, the first selection in the BuzzFeed Book Club.

 

Cultural Criticism 

 In trying to tell Mercury’s queer story through his straight bandmates’ eyes, the new Queen biopic ends up saying almost nothing at all.

 

Will John Legend Ever Make Interesting Music Again? by Tomi Obaro

 

The R&B singer, despite his progressive politics, has remained uncontroversial in an increasingly polarized moment. But has it come at an artistic cost?

 
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Netflix 

 

Samin Nosrat’s new food documentary series is a curious mix of luxury and gravitas, swirled together with unfettered joy.

 

The Hate U Give And The Limits Of Depicting Police Brutality by Stephen Kearse 

 

The Hate U Give, Monsters and Men, and Blindspotting don't have anything to say beyond police brutality is bad. (Warning: spoilers.)

 

Steve Dietl/Netflix

 

In the Netflix series, a family unit's destruction is the ultimate horror. But Shirley Jackson’s novel asked whether the nuclear family — which has alienated so many queer people — is itself horrifying. Warning: Spoilers ahead.

 

Julia Roberts Is Done Being America's Sweetheart by Manuel Betancourt

 

The actor’s performances in Homecoming, Ben Is Back and other recent roles push back against the image that has defined her for so long.

 

These Netflix Comedies Show Teens In All Their Gross, Embarrassing Glory by Steven Scaife

 

By tackling the messy realities of teen life, shows like Big Mouth and American Vandal offer a profound (and profane) empathy to the people who need it most.

 

Another newsletter exclusive: an interview with an author we love! This month: Glory Edim, whose anthology Well-Read Black Girl is out now.

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Jai Lennard 

 

“I’m reading The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory — we share the same book birthday! I read The Wedding Date and just loved it. It’s so funny and light and has a great way of telling a romance story that doesn’t feel cheesy or overdone. She’s clever and witty with her writing.


I’ve been revisiting old books as well. I started rereading Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward because I felt I needed something that felt familiar and comforting. I like the way she writes.


Our October book was Training School for Negro Girls; it’s a short story collection by Camille Acker. The title comes from a school founded by the activist Nannie Burroughs, who was akin to W.E.B. Du Bois — she was very influential. That book really struck me because it’s about DC and I’m from DC Her writing style reminds of Z.Z. Packer or Toni Cade Bambara’s Gorilla, My Love. It discusses gentrification and mental illness.”

 

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