Brow Beat

Culture Nerds Get a Longform All Their Own

My daily reading habits have changed completely thanks to smartphone apps like Instapaper and websites like, which collects nonfiction pieces that are “too long and too interesting to be read on a web browser” (and which, incidentally, presents weird and wonderful reading lists each week for Slate). Now, when I’m stuck on the subway or in a long, slow-as-molasses bank line, I no longer get that panicked, frantic feeling: There’s always something good on my iPhone to keep me occupied and chilled-out.


So I was excited to see today’s announcement  that is partnering on a sister site called Let’s Get Critical, which is dedicated to cultural criticism, essays, and reviews. It’s already stocked with some great content, from Sherman Alexie on why the best kids books are “written in blood” to Zadie Smith’s influential New York Review of Books essay on young people and the Internet. (Slate’s got a few representatives in there, too.)


In her announcement about the launch, Let’s Get Critical’s editor, Alexandra Lange, notes that she was inspired by Maud Newton’s recent New York Times Magazine essay about David Foster Wallace’s influence on Internet-speak, which closed by saying, “the best way to make an argument is to make it, straightforwardly, honestly, passionately, without regard to whether people will like you afterward.”


“That’s just what I want to read, and plan to collect,” Lange writes.

Right now, the site leans heavily toward recent pieces, but one of the greatest things about is the way it allows you to discover classic pieces of journalism that you probably missed the first time around. Here are a smattering of older cultural essays nominated by Slate staffers, which we’ll be recommending be added to the collection:

William Hazlitt, “On the Pleasure of Hating,” 1826

Louis Menand, “The Reluctant Memorialist,” on Maya Lin, the New Yorker, 2002

Louis Menand, “What Comes Naturally,” a review of Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate, the New Yorker, 2002

Laura Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Screen, 1975

James Wolcott’s “Smugged by Reality,” on Adam Gopnik, in the New Republic, 2007

Oscar Wilde, “The Critic as Artist,” 1891

What other oldies-but-goodies belong on the list? Let us know in the comments, and nominate them for inclusion on Let’s Get Critical by emailing them to or tweeting them at @LGCritical.