Music is the ultimate consolation for reality’s letdowns (like being thirteen and still firmly living in the realm of childhood). I would listen to “Venus as a Boy” on repeat in my bedroom, curtains drawn, and imagine Allan’s face, his arms, his chest, his body. ...more
Paul Griner talks about his newest novel, Second Life, his just-released story collection Hurry Please I Want to Know, putting real life into fiction, and whether creative writing can be taught. ...more
In episode 31 of The Rumpus’s Make/Work podcast, host Scott Pinkmountain speaks with researcher/curator Aurora Tang, who has built a career around thinking about sustainability for artists and arts organizations. ...more
Because we’re adept cave dwellers, because we pull down the shades and curl into each other, because we find some sort of domestic bliss in being fake-married for seven days, I think we can do anything....more
Mark Danielewski talks about the "maddening energy of violence" and why he’s writing a 27–volume novel, starting with his first 850-page installment in the series, The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May. ...more
Shulem Deen talks about his memoir, All Who Go Do Not Return, his life as an ex-Hasidic author, divorce and parenting, and how painful he found it to be cast out from the religious sect he'd belonged to for over fifteen years. ...more
Editor and author George Hodgman talks about his new memoir, Bettyville, what makes for a good memoir, and returning to his hometown of Paris, Missouri from New York to take care of his aging mother. ...more
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Over at The Nation, Moira Weigel gives a thought-provoking perspective on digital humanities, and identifies some of the field’s intellectual precursors. The idea that big data holds the key to unlocking mysteries of literature and history is the logical extension of a larger cultural obsession with computer analysis; it’s also a little absurd to any number of literature lovers. Weigel looks at a 1976 nonfiction work that attempted to trace the word “culture” through a popular resurgence, and recounts some pitfalls of the burgeoning field of digital humanities.
In the finished novel, this journey will take up four sentences. My virtual mapping of the route will have almost no discernible impact on the prose that I’ve already sketched out – as adjectives go, “nondescript” doesn’t paint much of a picture – and, once again, what I justify as research might just as easily be dismissed as the writer’s tendency to arse around. It’s certainly less costly and time-consuming than visiting Bologna, but it still feels a little like cheating. What if I’ve missed something? Isn’t being there part of the job?
Over at the Guardian, British novelist David Nicholls shares his experience of using Google to research places for his novels compared to visiting them in person.
For TheMillions, Caroline Crampton explores the prevalence of “sheep lit” (writing about shepherds and sheep) in 20th century British literature. According to Crampton, writing about sheep shows a relationship between the way shepherds “interact with their land,” and their personal histories. The result is writing that does not render details into “extravagant, writerly prose,” but rather writing that is “straightforward” and “connected to the place that inspired it.”
Conservative pundits have been attacking Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia student who spent the last year carrying around her mattress in protest of how the university handled the discipline hearing after she was raped, labeling her a liar. Most of these criticisms seem to forget that three other women also filed complaints against her attacker, Paul Nungesser. One of Nungesser’s victims went through the Columbia University discipline process and Nungesser was deemed “responsible,” at least before the university granted him an appeal. That victim has now spoken out, publishing an account of the incident and subsequent fallout on Jezebel. (more…)
It would have been Sun Ra’s 101st birthday last Friday, and to celebrate, Harte Recordings has released a 40th anniversary edition of the artist’s otherworldly cosmic trip, Space is the Place. We’ve done our share of commenting on the proliferation of Sun Ra remasters out there and how they’re organized for consumption in an Internet world, but this one—with its restored footage showcasing the film’s truly incredible sets—seems like it’s more than worth a peek. The reissue comprises a DVD, CD, and book including all the features you could want from a release like this: commentary from the directly relevant to the celebratory, the film’s producer Jim Newman to famous fans like Wayne Coyne; cut and uncut versions of the film; never-before-published photographs; and all other kinds of anniversary edition fanfare. Watch the film’s intro after the jump and check out the full details of the release at Birdman Records.
We’re never going to see eye-to-eye on what’s OK to write about. I’m not trying to embarrass or hurt anybody but telling my story is something I can’t compromise.
If I’m not telling it, it’s because I’m ashamed or feel guilty, and I don’t want to live in those places emotionally anymore. I spent a long time there. There’s some risk of overexposing myself but at the same time, telling my story is how I counteract the very real desire to hide everything about me.
At Vulture, Boris Kachka looks into the recent trend of publishing “mega-books,” with the hopes of answering a seemingly straightforward question: “When did book get so freaking enormous?” In his analysis, Kachka touches upon works by Knausgaard, Tartt, and Catton, all authors of recent works of significant length that have received a great deal of literary acclaim.
In this weekend’s Saturday Essay, Amanda Parrish Morgan returns to a favorite film of her childhood, Dead Poets Society, as a high school English teacher with a more critical eye. Parrish Morgan ties the sad “martyrdom” of the movie’s hero, Mr. Keating, in with the New York State Legislature’s new, unrealistic standards for evaluating teachers. The unfortunate reality is that: “In most communities, teachers are compensated so poorly and afforded so little respect that in many cases the primary compensation is martyrdom.”
Meanwhile, Ann van Buren offers a review of Paul Muldoon’s collection, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing. Part elegy for Seamus Heaney, part elegy for Muldoon’s lost homeland of Ireland, the book at turns compels and repels van Buren. Obscure references make the collection challenging. “In every phrase of yours,” Van Buren tells the poet directly, “we see a thousand synapses firing.”
Then, in the Sunday Essay, Suzanne Clores has nightmares about her own murder at the hands of her loving husband and wonders where they might come from. The boundary between female intuition and genuine precognition becomes blurred. “In my more sane and confident moments,” Clores writes, “I am certain he is the non-murdering gentleman I married.” But the symbolism is continually frightening.