Generally
A decision has been made on additional charges for officers in George Floyd case
The Minnesota Attorney General's office has finished its initial review of evidence in the investigation of four former Minneapolis Police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd and has rendered a decision regarding additional charges, two law enforcement officials briefed on the state's investigation told CNN.
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edition.cnn.com
Trump Administration Moves to Suspend Chinese Airline Flights To and From the U.S. Amid Escalating Tensions
The decision was a response to China's failure to let United Airlines and Delta Air Lines resume flights this week to China
6 m
time.com
Cleanest Air in the World Discovered
The atmospheric region above the Southern Ocean was found to be free from anthropogenic particles.
9 m
newsweek.com
Trump denies ordering protesters forcibly removed for church photo op
President Donald Trump, who was rushed to an underground bunker during protests, said he went down to inspect it.
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abcnews.go.com
Victoria Fuller supports Black Lives Matter, addresses past controversy
"I’d first like to say, I have been a part of the problem. And for that I am sorry," Fuller posted Monday on Instagram.
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nypost.com
Esper says he opposes using Insurrection Act to send military to quell unrest
Defense Secretary Mark Esper declared Wednesday that despite President Trump's remarks earlier this week, he is not in favor of the president invoking the Insurrection Act in order to send the U.S. military to quell violent protests.
9 m
foxnews.com
'A good army': L.A. protesters from diverse backgrounds converge on streets
Thousands peacefully took to the street in Hollywood and DTLA in what appeared to be the city's biggest protests since George Floyd's death last week.
9 m
latimes.com
After Reopening Schools, A COVID-19 Spike Makes Israel Consider Shutting Them Again
At least 244 students and school employees have tested positive for the coronavirus in recent weeks, according to the education ministry. At least 130 cases occurred in a single school in Jerusalem.
npr.org
A new era: The Space Age is making a comeback, but it's cheaper this time with SpaceX.
This is huge, but in a sense nothing new: We were launching people into orbit over 50 years ago. But SpaceX is doing it for much less. That's revolutionary.        
usatoday.com
How Adobe employees have been giving back to their communities
For those of us working at home, I’m willing to bet that it has instilled tremendous gratitude for two things: pajamas and PDFs. Whether you’re a lawyer or accountant, marketing manager or sales exec, Adobe Acrobat, along with Adobe’s suite of other products, has proved indispensable — especially sans office printers. “We are fortunate to...
nypost.com
Handheld Coronavirus 'Killing' Device That Uses Ultraviolet Light Now Possible, Researchers Say
Breakthroughs in UV-transparent materials can now help to produce UV LEDs at low cost and high quantity to rid surfaces of viruses, Penn State experts have said.
newsweek.com
Watch: The Vox Book Club talks The Secret History’s class politics with Nicole Cliffe
Vox The Vox Book Club’s live event covered how The Secret History fits into dark academia and why Bunny would be the worst at quarantine. Last Thursday, the Vox Book Club met on Zoom for the second time ever to discuss The Secret History with special guest Nicole Cliffe, co-founder of The Toast and a columnist at Slate. Over the course of 45 minutes, we delved into The Secret History’s inverted detective novel structure, its vexed class politics, and which of the classics kids would be the worst at quarantine. Also, Nicole got to show off her collection of haunted jewelry, and the ghost of the bacchanalia briefly kicked me (Constance) off of Zoom entirely. (It’s okay, I made it back.) If you attended the event live, we’re very glad we got to chat with you. But if you couldn’t, video of the entire thing is now available to watch (embedded above), or you can read a transcript of the highlights below. In the meantime, the Vox Book Club is heading full steam ahead into June, when we’ll be reading the ideal summer book, The Princess Bride. Join us back here for the first discussion post on Friday, June 5, and sign up for the Vox Book Club newsletter to be sure you don’t miss anything. Why college is the correct time to read The Secret History Constance Grady So Nicole, tell me your Secret History backstory. How did you first get to know this book? Nicole Cliffe I read it in college, which is the correct time to read it for the first time. I feel this very strongly, although I’m very jealous of my friends who are reading it for the first time, because you can never go back. The immersive experience of it is I feel best handled after high school, but before you can rent a car without a surcharge. But I read it in college. I was on full financial aid and many people I was there with were very wealthy, and constantly seemed to be aware of things that I was utterly clueless about. And so I’ve always really kind of pulled for Richard in that respect. There were a lot of moments that rang true. I actually wore this a green velvet jacket today because of the jacket that Richard is so proud to wear to his first lunch with Bunny, and then finds out it’s actually the wrong season to wear it. Even when there’s never a wrong season to wear an elderly Burberry jacket. Constance Grady Especially if it’s silk, but Bunny has very exacting standards for the rest of the world, apparently. And I have to agree on college being the best time to read it. I actually didn’t read it until a couple of years ago, around the same time that I read The Likeness by Tana French for the first time. It was a weird experience to put them both together, because they’re both sort of doing very similar things, but they come into it with totally different points of view. Tana French loves her fierce tough woman who will take no shit [so that’s who narrates The Likeness]. And then there’s, god bless Richard, who is just this weird, weird passive character who doesn’t really want to tell you anything about what’s happening. I love him, but I think he’s kind of terrible. Nicole Cliffe Something I always really admired about Richard, because it’s not something I can possess, is that Richard has the ability to just shut up. Richard will talk in the book about how people will constantly misinterpret his complete refusal to talk about himself as like, “Ooh, he’s sexy, mysterious, stoic, clearly richer than we think it, et cetera, et cetera.” Constance Grady He’s definitely one of those people who has convinced the world that he’s brooding and stoic, but that’s just his face. Nicole Cliffe Yes, it is absolutely just his face. He is a fragile little hamster. Constance Grady He’s also, I think, kind of a weird character for a dark academia book. That’s just a weird little sub-genre that tends to either go full Gothic and be about the spunky virgin who is learning the dark secrets, or else have a knowing character who’s deep and secretive and we’re delving into their dark secrets with them. Richard sort of splits the difference between those two in a weird way. He’s like his own final girl for this weird book. Nicole Cliffe Yes. Oh, I love that. I love Richard is his own final girl. I think that’s fantastic. Like he’s haunted, but he’s making do. Constance Grady He’s gonna get the fire ax in the end and get through it. Nicole Cliffe He’s going to be okay. He’s going to be okay. He’s going to be that one hitchhiker in the road at the end of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I promise I won’t talk about horror movies today. Constance Grady I think it’s perfectly fine to bring in horror, because this is a little bit of a riff on horror as much as it’s anything. Nicole Cliffe It’s the exact right amount of magic for a book as far as I’m concerned. Unless the book is about magic. If you’re The Night Circus, go to town. But I like that we just totally accepted there was a bacchanalian thing. They saw Dionysius. And the only other magical realism elements in the book are just, he has weird dreams and everybody in a novel has weird dreams where they see dead people. So it doesn’t really count. It reminds me of a much better book, Ian McEwen’s The Child in Time, which if you haven’t read it is fantastic. It’s an entire novel about loss and humanity. And there is one scene in which the protagonist is outside doing his thing, walks by a restaurant, and sees his parents. They’re in their twenties before he was born. I love when books do that, when it’s just the normal universe, but there’s one thing. Because I think we would all like to have one experience. The perplexing class politics of The Secret History Nicole Cliffe I absolutely did fall in with similar people in college. And if the group of vague weirdos I was hanging out with at the time — most of whom were just dolls, like lovely people — but if they’d been like, “We’ve murdered someone, now you’re on board, we have to go do a second murder,” I probably would have. Constance Grady I mean once you’re in with the group, you gotta commit. I think part of what makes this book so fun is that the group really is so compelling. It’s less about the individual people, who are kind of vague, I think, for the first half. But their house is so nice. Their lifestyle is so fun. Nicole Cliffe It’s like Vampire Weekend’s first album. It’s got that vibe, it’s like linen and picnics and drinking all day in little amounts until you just lose your sense of proportion altogether. Constance Grady Champagne in your teapot, quoting The Wasteland at each other in a rowboat. What is not to like? Nicole Cliffe And then speaking Greek to each other in code is just such a thing. Constance Grady This is I think part of the dark academia thing, which I would love to talk about as an aesthetic. I just realized it had a name very recently, so now I’m all over it. It’s so compelling to a very specific subset of people, of whom I am one. It’s as though it offers you the exclusivity of feeling like you’re being cool, but it’s for nerds. Nicole Cliffe It’s such for nerds. I appreciate that Donna Tartt has so many scenes where Richard will randomly be at a real party for normal college students and they’ll be like, “Why are you hanging around with these weirdos?” And you’re like, “Oh, there’s this whole other thing going on at Hampden that’s just normal college and not experiencing this completely bizarre world.” Constance Grady And Richard is very condescending to that world. But I think it’s so charming. Like I love Judy Poovey. I feel like she deserves so much better from Richard. She’s constantly giving him cocaine and beautiful vintage clothing and her car keys and Richard’s just like, “Well, you’re just gauche.” Nicole Cliffe That’s the sort of thing I’d expect from Judy who’s also from California, which isn’t cool. Constance Grady Richard does not have enough appreciation for Joan Didion, for someone from California with his aesthetic. Nicole Cliffe His relationship to California is like John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats talking about California. No, I picture John Darnielle sometimes as Richard, had he gone a totally different route. Constance Grady Oh my god, that is very true. Oh, hopefully Richard grows up to be as wise as John Darnielle. Nicole Cliffe I don’t think anyone can be as wise as John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats because he’s a wonderful person. Constance Grady I deeply cherish his social media presence every day. Nicole Cliffe It’s so pure. Who would be worst on Twitter? Any of our characters. Constance Grady Oh god. Okay. So the obvious answer is Henry, but Henry, I feel like, doesn’t do Twitter like at all. Like there’s no scenario in which he would. Nicole Cliffe No, no. Some of the characters, I think, we’re talking like Charles and Camilla — which by the way, it was 1992. There’s already such a choice to name the twins Charles and Camilla. But they remind me of the sort of classic Upper East Side WASP phenomenon which is always that a woman’s name should only be in the paper three times: birth, announcement of marriage, death. Constance Grady Yes. And also they are both very vague personalities in general. So I think if they were, they would only do retweets strictly. Nicole Cliffe They’re so wispy. Deeply. Especially Camilla. Just like deeply, deeply wispy. When we talk about Richard’s like weird sexuality, there’s that Camilla is just an idea of a woman. Constance Grady She’s just what he projects, what he thinks he was supposed to want, out into the world. Nicole Cliffe Which is why he’s always surprised when characters disappoint or surprise him because he doesn’t actually know these people for beans even before the murder. Constance Grady He has very specific ideas of who he thinks they are, and that does not have any real relationship with who they actually are. The real characters are kind of peeking out at us around the edges of what Richard is telling us. Nicole Cliffe Those are really interesting moments for Tartt as a stylist when she does that. I’m writing a horror novel, a haunted house novel. It’s my first novel. And now whenever I’m reading a book, I’m really looking at the mechanics and being like, okay, first novels, what are people doing that they shouldn’t do? And she does too much telling, not showing. Like that scene where Richard says, “I’m still haunted by that laughter.” We can tell. We can tell that’s the whole point of the book, that you’re still haunted by their laughs slash this incident. You don’t need to be like, “Those days still wear on me.” That’s why we’re reading the book. Constance Grady I think that’s true. But I also think it’s such a Richard thing to want to show us the exact ways in which he’s tortured in order to impress upon us that he’s genuinely a good person. Which is what makes me so suspicious that he’s secretly really, really terrible. Nicole Cliffe He’s so interesting on that front. You know, I think that if I had to pick a portion of the book that I felt was the best written, it’s got to be that portion where he is freezing to death in the warehouse, Constance Grady Harrowing! Nicole Cliffe It’s harrowing. It’s harrowing and that entire sequence of events around it where he’s, freezing, spending all day at work refusing, despite the fact that all of the other characters are constantly asking each other for money, he’s the one who can’t do it. Julian is like, “Oh, you’re more of a stoic than I thought.” And I’m like, “Oh no, this is a thing for Richard.” He’s grasped that he doesn’t have the vocabulary to ask people for money the same way that they do. Because rich college students are constantly asking people to cover things for them. I knew the first time I read it, that when he went to lunch with Bunny that day that Bunny was not going to be picking up the check. And I just had all of these flashbacks of just spending an entire meal, like, Who’s going to get the check? Why are we at this restaurant? Constance Grady They’ll even pull one of those, “We’ll just split it down the middle.” It’s like, am I really going to pay for all of your cocktails? Nicole Cliffe And you know Richard drank an ice water and ate a salad just in case things went south on him. Constance Grady And even Henry has that moment where he’s like, “It’s frankly very stupid that you aren’t asking us for money.” And it’s so interesting because Richard has absolutely no problem taking things when they’re offered. He takes, and he can ask for things from Judy Poovey because she’s the same class as him. Nicole Cliffe It doesn’t demean him in any way because of the contempt he feels for her. It’s like she’s supposed to be giving him things. Constance Grady And he loves getting stuff from Henry and the rest of the crowd, but he just can’t bring himself to verbally make the request. The fact that Bunny does sponge off him for that lunch, I’ve always felt like it’s part of why Richard eventually turns on him. Because he flips the relationship they’re supposed to have, where Richard is supposed to be the one who benefits and the one who receives all of these showers of wealth. And then Bunny shows up and he’s the sponge, he’s the parasite. Nicole Cliffe Oh no, that’s not supposed to be how it goes. It’s interesting to me also that it’s during that lunch that he notices like, “Oh, he’s also homophobic and anti-Semitic.” Because I don’t think he would have had quite the same reaction had that lunch turned out differently. Constance Grady If Bunny had abided by the rules of civility as Richard understands them, his bigotry would have been less offensive. Nicole Cliffe And no one is more obsessed with the rules of civility than people who are extremely new to it. Richard’s subliminal and repressed sexuality Nicole Cliffe It’s so anthropological, the first third of the novel in particular because Richard makes such a study of them. He’s so quiet, he just watches. And then of course because he believes he knows them much better than he does. That’s why the events of the final third of the novel, he just is completely at lunch. He’s utterly at sea about how things have gone at that point. Constance Grady And he’s so taken aback, even though the rest of the characters are always sort of like, “Oh, well we assumed you’d figured this out.” Like he goes to Francis with the news that the twins are sleeping together and Francis is like, “No, obviously.” Nicole Cliffe You can’t have a good dark academia book without an incestuous relationship at some point. Constance Grady That’s just the law. Or like at least a couple hidden homosexual interests, which also happened in this book. Richard is so deeply in love with Francis, my god. Nicole Cliffe It’s so extreme. I think sometimes too that Donna Tartt really struggles with writing a male protagonist. Not to be like, she just assumes he’s a lady and works with that, but you do have moments. The perspective is a little asexual, you know? Constance Grady I think that was what Bret Easton Ellis has said, when he talks about reading the book and workshopping it with her. Apparently he gave it back to her and said, “My one critique is that with Richard, you’ve written this college student man who never really looks at anyone, either man or woman.” And he says Donna just glared at him. Which I think is a really beautiful moment and I hoped Donna Tartt gave Bret Easton Ellis that glare many times. Nicole Cliffe But it also suggests that it’s somewhat intentional, at least on her part. She thought about it and had self-knowledge about it and was like, “Nope, this is Richard. People are weird. I’m rolling with it.” Constance Grady He is just a very closed-off character, to us as much as anyone else. And that’s part of what makes the novel so paranoid and gives it that forward drive and the energy. Nicole Cliffe And I’m sure not everyone is meant to identify so much with Richard. But because very few people are affluent super WASPs who don’t get particularly good grades, who have weird trusts from which they get money, obviously when you write this book, you realize that most people are coming in as a Richard. And it’s always one of those easy ways to do a movie or a book or a TV show: You have a new character who doesn’t know what the hell is going on. So the author gets to explain the nature of what’s going on to them. The mystery of Henry’s mind Constance Grady One of the things that I think is so fun is Richard is constantly talking about how much he likes detective novels and just like comparing Henry to Sherlock Holmes, riffing off of that. And then at the very end you have that, “Maybe Henry’s not actually dead, maybe he’s like Sherlock Holmes and faked shooting himself in the head somehow.” What do you think all of those detective novel references are doing? The go-to answer is that it’s an inverted detective novel. Nicole Cliffe Which I like. I like it when books lay stuff out like that at the beginning, because it also means the book is planning on doing something more interesting than revealing a mystery to us with a gotcha. It’s always been more interesting for me to start with, you know, “The day I shot my mother began with blah,” and then the rest of the book is taking us to that point. I’ve always enjoyed that. There’s also the fact that if you’re a great student of detective fiction and suddenly you wind yourself up an accessory after the fact to a previous murder, and then an active participant in second murder, that’s going to throw you off a little bit, probably. And you see this, like when he’s talking to the cops becoming aware that the police are not Sherlock Holmes. Constance Grady They’re so stupid in this book. Nicole Cliffe So, so foolish. Each theory sillier is in the last, and that’s often how these things work out. If I committed a true crime, I think I would give the police too many details of like my fake narrative. And I would try not to because I know that’s a problem. But you can see that he really thinks that they’re snowing him a lot. Because there’s a lot in this book, as we’ve mentioned, of people who know more than you think they do and people assume you know more than you actually do. Constance Grady One of the big ambiguities is that I always go back and forth on is whether Henry actually did mean to frame Richard. Which is sort of suggested at the end and he’s kind of like, “Ooh, did he?” And then he just never really decides. I kind of feel like he did, just because he refuses to let Richard in on the alibi that the core four used, but I can never make up my mind for sure. Nicole Cliffe I liked that ambiguity. I tend to agree with you that that was the plan, and the threads didn’t get picked up on. But it would be a very Henry thing to do. It’s funny, I had forgotten how bad Henry is when you’re rereading it. You know, you’re like, “Oh, like Henry’s the one who comes in bails him out of lunch and then really does his best to make him understand it is not his fault at all,” Which was not necessary. He could have just come and paid $200 for the ridiculous lunch and then been like, okay, see you on Monday. But he really wanted to let him know that “This is some stuff Bunny does, that drives us all crazy.” Constance Grady And he comes into the incredibly harrowing winter section to the rescue and it’s just such a relief when he shows up. It’s like, “Oh, all the tension disappeared.” Nicole Cliffe He lets him sleep in his bed. He sleeps on the pull-out couch. There’s always the interesting thing, the fact that people have a desperate, desperate need to think of themselves as good people, especially when they’ve done something objectively horrifying. And the fact that he’s so brusque when anyone tries to thank him, I think is part of that, because he knows that what he’s doing isn’t really purely altruistic. It’s not just because he likes Richard. It’s a little bit of a power play. But it took me a long time into the book to be like, “Oh, Henry’s terrible.” Constance Grady It always shocks me again when I get to the scene toward the end, where he’s tending his garden. Richard comes along and Henry turns to him and says, “You don’t care a great deal for people, do you? Neither do I.” Nicole Cliffe That’s some forced team-building, right there. That is what that is. Constance Grady I do kind of feel like Richard does not appear to care a great deal for other people, because he’s super chill about joining up in all these murders. But it always shocked me when Henry just straight-out admits to it. Nicole Cliffe And I think it was interesting of Tartt. Because at the beginning we have Richard talking about his general distaste for California. His particular home, his particular situation, but we don’t get into the abusive nature of his home until very, very near the end. And that’s the sort of moment where you’re like, “Oh, if I’d had this information about Richard in chapter one, I would think differently of Richard.” But Richard is also trying to make us feel a certain way about him at the beginning. Constance Grady Yeah. You have the layers of intention there. Nicole Cliffe Yes. Toward the end we get more of the unvarnished truth, sort of like Richard acknowledging who Richard is on a certain level. Again, always via distancing. Asking the real questions Constance Grady How do the classics kids survive quarantine? I feel like Henry sees zero changes to his lifestyle. Nicole Cliffe Oh yeah, no issues there. Bunny would have come completely unglued. Constance Grady Bunny 100 percent is one of those people who’s walking around without a mask, talking about freedom. Nicole Cliffe Oh, freedoms. He would have terrible political opinions. I think that Richard would do whatever his state told him to do. Charles and Camilla would have hunkered down together somewhere. Just doing their thing. Julian would not know about quarantine. Constance Grady Yes. Julian just continues living his life. Nicole Cliffe I’ve always wondered, because obviously Sherlock Holmes is a big deal in here, I have always wondered about that moment in the BBC Sherlock when it turns out that Sherlock as Benedict Cumberbatch does not know about the moon landing. Constance Grady I think that’s in “A Study in Scarlet,” the original, that Watson finds out that Sherlock Holmes does not know that the earth orbits the sun or something. Nicole Cliffe Because it’s irrelevant to the work. Yeah. And I think instead of the work, in this book it’s their weird lives. That’s what they believe in. Constance Grady The commitment to the aesthetic. Okay, super quick, I feel like this book requires a fuck/marry/kill. Nicole Cliffe I was thinking about this, because that’s all we do now. And I think you fuck Francis because he’d be an interesting kind of a freak. He dresses like Prince. Constance Grady He’s always seducing ostensibly straight boys, so there has to be something there. Nicole Cliffe But I’m pretty sure he has also been with ladies at least a couple of times, for practice. So I’m intrigued toward that. I’m going to come in strong on kill Bunny. I think they had to kill Bunny. I didn’t care Bunny died. It didn’t bother me at all. I’m a terrible person. In terms of marry, that’s where it gets interesting. On the one hand, I was in love with Camilla. I’ve always been in love with Camilla. But reading it again, I’m like, “Oh, there’s nothing there.” She’s very beautiful. Constance Grady She’s very beautiful, which she is why she would have been a perfect Gwyneth Paltrow character had that movie deal gone through. Nicole Cliffe The idea of making this movie, I was saying to you earlier that I think that Bunny would have been done so perfectly by a very young Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I think he really could have brought what was necessary to do a fantastic Bunny. Constance Grady Really just the entire cast of The Talented Mr. Ripley should just move over. Nicole Cliffe But to get back to who you marry, this is the most challenging one, because I don’t think you want to marry anyone in this book. They would drive you in insane in a minute. Absolutely, totally around the bend. It’s impossible. One could marry Richard, but I wouldn’t recommend it. That self-loathing! Julian knows a lot of cool people, has a nice house, throws cool parties. But I just couldn’t deal with someone who was that overly invested in his undergraduates. Really this would only work for undergraduates because graduate students are so tightly wound. If they were to have a bacchanalia, the entire college would have run red with blood. It would not have been a farmer. They would wipe out everyone outside because their lives are so difficult. And then go wild on the quad. Constance Grady I feel like the only one of these characters who gives off any kind of sexual energy is Henry. It’s a wholly unappealing energy, but this game is about making hard choices. Nicole Cliffe It is. So go with that. Is he your pick for marry? Constance Grady I would marry Francis, personally. I think he’s the only one of those characters who is close to a good person and also he has that sweet summer house. Nicole Cliffe So you would get the great house and the cool clothes. Constance Grady Which maybe I could borrow! Nicole Cliffe Oh, I’m sure they’d be long dusters and things, you’d look amazing. I think he would have worn this blouse. Constance Grady 100 percent. Nicole Cliffe I wanted to wear creepy jewelry today to be in tune with things. So I have these sort of evil eye clip-ons. And this [holding up a ring] is a probably haunted art deco diamond. I got it on the Real Real for nothing. These [gesturing to necklace of lockets] are Victorian morning lockets that are haunted, but they’re sealed. One of them came to my house open and empty. But that’s good, because that means whatever’s wrong with it is back with the previous owner. Because, you know, I’ve had bad experiences with haunted jewelry before. Not that it has stopped me. Constance Grady I think you should have gotten a discount on this one because that’s one less ghost for you. Nicole Cliffe Exactly. That’s what I care about most. I’m trying to pop it open for you. It’s this one, it opens and it’s empty. Constance Grady Oh, and I would kill Richard. Just for being mean to Judy alone. I mean the amount of cocaine she gave him. Nicole Cliffe And the dinner jacket. Which she didn’t have to do! Constance Grady And I know she was going to cut it up, but I feel like she would have made something really cool out of it. Nicole Cliffe Oh, she would have, I bet she had very cool things. Many drugs at this school. Constance Grady I feel like that’s just a documentary aspect of the book’s setup. Nicole Cliffe The late ’80s. There were drugs at my college, but no one ever offered me any, ever. Not once. Constance Grady Same. I think I just exuded an energy that was like, “No, she will not.” Nicole Cliffe I would absolutely have tried any drugs. But no one ever did. There was this very Secret History-esque semi-secret literary society at my school. I would leave their parties and then the next day people would be like, “There were so much coke at that party.” And I’d be like, “Wow. Wow.” Constance Grady I hope anyone who from your college who is watching this now feels ashamed of themselves. Nicole Cliffe They should, I would have been very classy and cool. You missed out. Questions from the audience Constance Grady David says, “I spent the book wondering if it was headed toward a critique of insular academic learning about truth, beauty, et cetera, that made absolutely no impact on the moral lives of the people involved. I’m not sure it ever got there. Do you think Tartt intended such a critique?” Nicole Cliffe No, I don’t think she did. I don’t think there’s a lot of big societal stuff happening here. I think that it’s more in-group/out-group dynamics and class stuff. And the university is just the perfect setting to let those things play out to their natural conclusion. It’s a great Petri dish, especially because it’s about young people who are desperately trying to decide what kind of people they are, and what could happen. Obviously, the kind of people you decide you want to be like could turn out to be bacchanalian murderer-type people. Academia is a nightmare. So much of this is that the people you thought were aggravating turn out to be good. So he [Richard] really should’ve listened when his advisor was like, “I think it’s really bad for you to take all of your classes with this one guy who’s really weird.” And he was like, “That’s what I want.” And that guy actually turns out to be kind of helpful when he gets out of it. So I’m looking at a question now from Jennifer, which is, “Why do you think Tartt wrote about alcohol and cigarettes so much?” I think it probably is just a reflection of the atmosphere in Bennington-slash-Hampden at the time. It was the ’80s, and people were just using tremendous amounts of drugs. But I think it also goes back to the fact that these characters are always trying to place themselves in a heightened state. They’re on uppers, they’re on downers, they’re trying to not feel their feelings. The idea that they might have to experience a feeling and live with it and endure it is utterly alien to these people. Which is also the allure of the bacchanalia itself: this idea that you can check out from your own very tightly wound very stoic persona, and just let it all go completely wild. If you enjoy this book, I think you would really like J.G. Ballard’s novella Running Wild. He’s a genius. We lost him too soon. But I think that particular writing about the desire of people who are very, very constricted and how ham they go when something comes off the wheels or they have an excuse to, it’s really, really interesting. This next question is from Tanya. “Do you think that by the end of the story, Richard is fully encompassed as an insider in this group? Do his friends love him as much as he loves them?” No. No, they do not. I do not think they do at all. Constance Grady I would have to agree. I think he never really fully understands who they are, and they always sort of erect a wall and keep him out of their super-secret alibis and various other revelations that they’ve been hiding from him. Nicole Cliffe And some of which is a gift, right? Obviously you don’t want to be like, “Oh, by the way, we’re murderers and we have bacchanalias and things like that.” That’s a tough opener. But I also think if they’d known that Richard had no money, that none of this would have gone down. I mean, obviously Julian wouldn’t have taken him because Julian has his own very weird ideas of who should study the classics, which is clearly people who do not need to do anything for the rest of their lives. Which I don’t want to say is a 100 percent accurate, but, you know, Constance Grady It is definitely a degree that is most useful to people who don’t need to worry about money for the rest of their lives. Sarah says, “You’ve talked about Sherlock Holmes as an influence, but I’m curious about other influences in the book. I always thought at the lunch scene with Bunny as being an inverse of the lunch scene that Charles has with Anthony Blanche in Brideshead Revisited. And the bit about Richard’s silence being mistaken for depth is the inverse of Nick Caraway, his comment that his approachability always makes people tell him things and he wishes they wouldn’t in The Great Gatsby. But I’m wondering if there are other things like that that I’m missing.” Nicole Cliffe I love this question. Well, we have a specific moment where Richard talks about rereading The Great Gatsby when he’s strapped. This book is drenched, drenched in Brideshead. The only thing that would make it more Brideshead is Catholicism. And instead we have Greek gods. But just in terms of his joy at being taken to a big weird country house and doing nothing and eating weird meals and drinking things and lying on the lawn playing literal croquet. Constance Grady And I think in a lot of ways Brideshead is the ur-text for all the dark academia books. It’s all over the Magicians trilogy as well. It is the original, as the characters in Brideshead say of Sebastian. To keep up with the Vox Book Club, subscribe to our newsletter and chime in for our discussion of The Princess Bride. Support Vox’s explanatory journalism Every day at Vox, we aim to answer your most important questions and provide you, and our audience around the world, with information that has the power to save lives. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. Vox’s work is reaching more people than ever, but our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Your financial contribution will not constitute a donation, but it will enable our staff to continue to offer free articles, videos, and podcasts at the quality and volume that this moment requires. Please consider making a contribution to Vox today.
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Son of retired police officer killed in St. Louis looting has message for person who pulled trigger
The son of a retired St. Louis police captain who was killed during looting sparked by the death of George Floyd has a message for the person who pulled the trigger: “just step back from what you are doing.” 
foxnews.com
Trump bans flights from China to U.S. amid tensions over coronavirus, Hong Kong
The Trump administration ordered a suspension of flights from China to the United States, effective June 16.        
usatoday.com
Concern that nationwide protests could lead to another wave of COVID-19
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cbsnews.com
City pays street preacher $50,000 after 30-day public park ban
The city of Portland, Ore. agreed to pay an anti-abortion street preacher $50,000 last week after he was banned from a public park for 30 days.
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13-year-old expected to plead guilty in connection to Tessa Majors' murder
Tessa Majors was fatally stabbed in Morningside Park in December.
abcnews.go.com
Greece to introduce controlled tourists' visits
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usatoday.com
Steve Kerr Says Donald Trump Lacks Leadership to Deal With Peaceful Protests Like Colin Kaepernick's
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newsweek.com
Campbell Soup sales surge on coronavirus stockpiling, but stock dives
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nypost.com
Artists Across the Internet are Honoring George Floyd With Striking Portraits
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newsweek.com
Sean Hannity and wife divorce after more than 20 years of marriage
Fox News host Hannity and his wife Jill Rhodes have divorced after more than 20 years of marriage.
nypost.com
Paris Protests Erupt over Adam Traoré, Young Black Man Who Died like 'Our Brother' George Floyd in Police Custody
A protest in Paris saw demonstrators voice anger at the 2016 death in custody of Adama Traore, whose case has echoes of the George Floyd killing.
newsweek.com
'Mompreneur' gives back to her NYC community
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More Than 400 Migrants Living in Limbo Aboard Chartered Pleasure Cruise Ships off Maltese Coast
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time.com
Marine Veteran Says He Was Seriously Injured After LAPD Fire Rubber Bullets at Him During George Floyd Protest
CJ Montano said police fired multiple rubber bullets that hit him in the stomach, chest and head while he had his hands in the air during a protest in Los Angeles.
newsweek.com
Marc Jacobs appears unfazed after his LA store is looted
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The US national security adviser says there's no systemic racism in policing. Studies suggest otherwise
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edition.cnn.com
Trump says he went to White House bunker for 'inspection,' hits back at criticism of church visit
President Trump refuted reports on Wednesday both that he had been taken to an underground bunker during tumultuous protests on Sunday evening and that he had used tear gas to move out protesters for a photo-op in front of Washington D.C.'s historic St. John's Episcopal Church.
foxnews.com
Japan's Yomiuri Giants call off preseason baseball game after two positive coronavirus tests
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usatoday.com
No one saw this Mets dominance coming: ‘How did they do it?’
This was more of a coronation than a series. Four games that summed up the Mets’ stunning second-half run from also-ran to National League champions. It began with them considered the underdog to the young and powerful Cubs and ended with little doubt who was superior. The finale of the 2015 NLCS was fitting to...
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Hundreds rally for black lives in New Orleans
About 500 people gathered peacefully Tuesday evening in a New Orleans park, marking the eighth straight day of protests across the U.S. after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee against George Floyd's neck until he stopped moving. (June 3)       
usatoday.com
Rep. Andy Biggs: End riots, restore freedom – too many aiding bad behavior
Like me, you may be wondering why so many people are justifying rioting and looting by mobs of Marxists and anarchists intent on burning America.
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Trump risks potential backlash from evangelicals with 'tone-deaf' Bible photo-op
As he brandished an unopened Bible in front of the boarded-up St. John's Episcopal Church across the street from the White House Monday evening, President Donald Trump delivered an unspoken message to white evangelical Christians: Remember, I'm on your side.
edition.cnn.com
Denver cop fired for ‘let’s start a riot’ post amid George Floyd protests
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Why Lisa Vanderpump didn’t fire Max Boyens, Brett Caprioni over resurfaced racist tweets
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nypost.com
Rod Rosenstein defends appointing Mueller to lead Russia probe
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nypost.com
Facials Gone Virtual: She Teaches People Self-Care, A Hot Commodity During Pandemic
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npr.org
Michigan sheriff goes viral for walking with protesters: We have to start dialogue and make change
A Michigan sheriff captured in a viral video marching with protestors over the weekend told “America’s Newsroom” on Monday that “when the protesters see the heart of the police, that's when they’ll start listening, but the burden falls on us.”
foxnews.com
Fauci: US should have 'couple hundred million' doses of Covid-19 vaccine by start of 2021
The United States should have 100 million doses of one candidate coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, said Tuesday.
edition.cnn.com
Colby Covington piles on Tyron Woodley after loss to Gilbert Burns: Told you he's 'washed up'
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usatoday.com
UFC star Jon Jones admits this will be his 'first year voting'
UFC fighter Jon Jones is not only speaking out in the wake of the George Floyd protests but he’s also taking action. 
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Trump says he went to White House bunker for 'inspection,' not because of protests
President Donald Trump denied reports that he was escorted to an underground bunker at White House because of security concerns amid violent protest.        
usatoday.com
Scientists found the cleanest air on Earth
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Why Joe Biden will almost certainly pick a black woman as VP
The biggest choice of Joe Biden's political life is being made for him -- by his own gaffes and the ongoing protests over the murder of George Floyd: It now seems a near-certainty that he will (and should) name a black woman as his vice presidential running mate.
edition.cnn.com
Trump facing backlash from D.C. religious leaders after church and shrine visits
President Trump is facing backlash from local religious leaders for his visits to a historic church and national shrine amid the protests this week over George Floyd's death. CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang joins CBSN to break down the latest developments.
cbsnews.com
2 wounded, 3 arrested after South L.A. shooting triggers police pursuit
Officers responded to Broadway and Manchester Avenue shortly after midnight after hearing gunshots.
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Ben & Jerry's Calls to 'Dismantle White Supremacy' in No-Holds-Barred Statement
Ben & Jerry's also wants the Department of Justice to reinstate policies rolled back under the Trump administration.
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