Happy Thursday, loyal readers, and thank you for opening up today’s issue of the newsletter. Before diving in, let me start by saying, “Wow, Nikole Hannah-Jones
, wow.” Longtime subscribers know I’m a huge fan, so I was extremely happy this week when I found out she had declined a job offer from the University of North Carolina to accept a professorship at Howard University. Even more impressive was her statement explaining her decision
. Someday, maybe Ms. Hannah-Jones will stop by and say hello to our reading community. Who knows: Maybe she’ll become a subscriber?
Aspirations aside, this week, I’m trying something new: spotlighting an outstanding author and dedicating an entire issue to their work. That author is Barrett Swanson
. Many of you — I see you, Article Clubbers! — already know Mr. Swanson. But it’s altogether possible you’ve never heard of him. He’s remained mostly under the radar at The Highlighter, even though “Lost in Summerland
,” this week’s lead piece, was one of my favorite articles last year
. I was reading his book of essays
this week (also outstanding), and it dawned on me: “This guy has been in The Highlighter a lot!” And so I did a search, and sure enough, Mr. Swanson’s work has appeared many times.
The reason? The guy knows how to write. No matter the topic (e.g., TikTok influencers
, scary water parks
, masculinity retreats
), Mr. Swanson is funny, sensitive, and deep. He knows about longing, depression, postmodern neoliberalism, conspiracy theories, and the absurdities of life. You’ll want to keep a dictionary nearby (in a good way). Most of all, I like how Mr. Swanson has empathy for his subjects, never judging them, choosing instead to interrogate his own choices. And he loves his brother and isn’t afraid to cry.
I hope you’ll read one or all of Mr. Swanson’s pieces this week, and I’d love to know what you think. All you need to do is hit reply. Please enjoy.