A Year In Everything: Jason Parham

Everything I read on the subway that helped to stave off the hellscape that was 2016.

December 20, 2016
A Year In Everything: Jason Parham

I have a theory: we spend most of our lives waiting. For people. For opportunity to arise. For new experiences. For Uber. Or, if you live in New York City, for our outright dire public transportation system. A considerable amount of my week is spent riding the subway — rushing to work, trekking to visit friends uptown, traveling back to my apartment after a night out — and in that time I do the most reading (mainly via Pocket). I typically thumb through fiction, but promised myself I’d dive into more nonfiction this year.

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That commitment to myself became increasingly important in a 2016 that also saw the ascension of a billionaire demagogue and the cancerous spread of “fake news.” Suddenly, it seemed, information was all around us: in tweets and snapchats, on TV, thundering at us from newsfeeds. But more information didn’t make for a more informed populace. Sadly — inevitably? — it only seemed to make us more delirious.

The line between what was real and what was malicious untruth became so muddied in online precincts like Facebook that a once-moderately informed voting bloc began to question everything. “The use of social media to spread political misinformation online is partly just a giant shell game,” Michael P. Lynch wrote in The New York Times in November. Propagandists, Lynch continued, “don’t have to get you to actually believe the penny is under the wrong shell. They just have to get you confused enough so that you don’t know what is true.”

In an effort to not completely agonize over 2016’s never-ending hellscape, I burrowed into essays, profiles, and a few good books. The following is a (mostly complete) list of everything I read on the subway in the last 12 months. Fortunately enough, they were also stories that felt refreshingly real in a year that felt like utter fiction.

The Legacy of Lynching, on Death Row

Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker

To the First Lady, With Love

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, T Magazine

Why Pop Culture Just Can’t Deal With Black Male Sexuality

Wesley Morris, New York Times Magazine

Kill ‘Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul

James Mcbride

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Seeing Stars

Alex Ronan, Real Life

Baltimore vs. Marilyn Mosby

Wil S. Hylton, New York Times Magazine

The Return of the Utopians

Akash Kapur, The New Yorker

Ripping The Veil

Brit Bennett, The New Republic

The Blog That Disappeared

Roxane Gay, New York Times

Who Are All These Trump Supporters?

George Saunders, The New Yorker

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Why ‘Transcending Race’ Is a Lie

Greg Howard, New York Times Magazine

In Praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club

Justin Torres, Washington Post

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A Door to Robin Coste Lewis’s Los Angeles

Leah Mirakhor, Los Angeles Review of Books

Allen Iverson’s Crossover Appeal

Vann R. Newkirk II, The Atlantic

My Father’s House

Reggie Ugwu, BuzzFeed

Authenticity and Desire: A Conversation with Darryl Pinckney

Rachel Charlene Lewis, Los Angeles Review of Books

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The Weight of James Arthur Baldwin

Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, BuzzFeed

The Netflix of Africa Doesn’t Need Hollywood to Win

Alexis Okeowo, Bloomberg Businessweek

When Whitney Hit the High Note

Danyel Smith, ESPN

Fear of a Black Quarterback

Tommy Craggs, Slate

N.Y.C. to L.A. to N.Y.C. to L.A., Ad Infinitum

Cirocco Dunlap, The New Yorker

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From The Collection:

LISTMANIA 2016
A Year In Everything: Jason Parham