Rita Banerjee’s essay “Birth of Cool,” which appeared in the Silence & Power issue of Hunger Mountain, was recently named a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2020 edited by André Aciman.
“Birth of Cool” is a braided essay about 9/11, love, coolness, and the death of her grandfather, her first icon of “cool.” In “Birth of Cool,” Rita Banerjee examines her growing infatuation with everything styled and aestheticized. She investigates how 9/11 signaled the death of irony, but not of cool, which she imparts from her idols, from Miles Davis and Jimi Hendrix to MTV and Jon Stewart. In “Birth of Cool,” Banerjee explains why she chose a life of aesthetics, style, and emotional distance over that of politics, righteousness, and explicit social engagement. In this essay, she confronts her own agency and observes how her own sense of cool is birthed as a coping mechanism against social trauma.
You can read “Birth of Cool” online on Hunger Mountain here:
You can read the print version of “Birth of Cool” by order Hunger Mountain, Issue 23: Silence & Power here: https://hungermtn.submittable.com/submit/68385/purchase-back-issue
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