The Rumpus Book Club chats with Martin Seay about his debut novel The Mirror Thief, the Great Work of alchemy, researching optical prosthetics, and keeping plot lines straight in a 600-page novel. ...more
Author Chanan Tigay discusses the complicated man at the heart of The Lost Book of Moses, the anxieties of writing true stories, how much to withhold from your reader—and tells a few jokes about creative nonfiction. ...more
It has been fifteen years, but I can still remember every moment of that year. It is cased in a vitrine, and the things I see through the wavy plexiglass are indistinct and as odd as that car going the wrong way on the parking garage ramp....more
This is a story about memory. About neurons misfiring, about the strange space between dream and awake, that feeling, when I’m falling asleep, of falling backwards, swinging my arms up to catch myself....more
Bernadette Murphy on her forthcoming book, Harley and Me: Embracing Risk on the Road to a More Authentic Life, the challenges of selling a memoir, and life beyond "the suburban-wife-mother picture." ...more
But to become a writer I needed at least to learn about my own superstitions. I needed space in the house to sketch with words. I needed to commit heresies. And those acts had to feel pleasurable....more
In the second installment of The Read Along, Omar Musa shares how airplane delays can lead to productive reading sessions and how easy it is to get sucked into Internet wormholes about geodesic domes. ...more
Poet Terese Svoboda talks about her biography of the socialist-anarchist firebrand and modernist poet Lola Ridge, Anything That Burns You, and remembers a time when the political was printed in newspapers. ...more
Psychoanalyst and writer Adam Phillips talks with his editor, Ileene Smith, about unforbidden pleasures and his new book of the same title at FSG’s Works in Progress. Phillips respectfully declines Freud’s narrow of view of the origins of desire, pleasure, and inhibition, and hopes for new illumination. He ends by saying, “So I think that there’s a sense in which by privileging the forbidden, we’ve terrorized ourselves about our pleasures.”
Bad writing is almost always a love poem addressed by the self to the self. The person who will admire it first and last and most is the writer herself.
Over at the Guardian, writer Toby Litt explores what makes bad writing so terrible. Not only is bad writing boring and “written defensively,” but “bad writers often believe they have very little left to learn,” Litt says.
If you’re feeling like life’s getting out of hand, like everything’s just changing too fast in this ol’ world of ours, here’s a constant for you: Liam Gallagher is still being a total pain in the butt. Despite a cute journey into reconciliation with his brother, the tried and true insult-flinging has begun again with Liam’s typical flair: he has issued a statement that his brother is “a potato” and called David Holmes a “ginge,” i.e. a disparaging term for redheads (why there exists a disparaging term for redheads, we’ll never understand).
My head will talk to itself all day and all night if I let it. And my heart is less nutty, but it’s kind of like an overexcited child. I don’t trust my heart all that much either. My body is like a good horse. I trust my body.
American writers have issued a statement on Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Presidency of the United States. They are asking writers across the country to sign a petition signifying their agreement with the statement, which begins:
Because, as writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power;
And goes on to address many concerns Americans share about a potential Trump presidency. The petition has already exceeded its goal of 10,000 signatures. Click on the widget after the jump to add your name!
Boston’s City Hall and Mass Poetry, a Massachusetts-based poetry nonprofit, has embarked on an urban art project: They’ve stenciled poems onto Boston’s sidewalks using paint that only appears in the rain. Sara Siegel, the program director at Mass Poetry, says: “We want to bring poetry to the people. This is a fun, quirky way to do that.”
There is such a stark cognitive dissonance at present—Black writers winning prestigious literary awards and facing watermelon jokes in the same moment, White editors wanting racial diversity while still publishing racist poems.
With an introduction by new Editor-in-Chief Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, former contributing editor Casey Rocheteau dissects and describes what went wrong with “white peoples’ best intentions for diversity at The Offing,” at The Offing.
Over at Guernica, Kyle Lucia Wu talks with Stephanie Danler about her new novel, Sweetbitter, and how Danler’s personal experiences as a young woman living in New York City and working in a restaurant overlap with those of her protagonist:
There is this moment when you cross the bridge or you land at JFK where you’re starting over from zero. You have to prove yourself and start at the bottom. It is a place where the American dream still works like that, to some extent. That was one part of it: I wanted her to leave her old life behind and this is the only place that you can go in all of the United States where you can freshly reinvent yourself, where you can be anonymous and then become someone.
The Rumpus is working on an article about film festivals! We’d love to talk to directors whose movies played any of these (or similar) festivals: SXSW, Chicago Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, and Tribeca Film Festival. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the Guardian, Sam Jordison draws parallels between Don DeLillo’s previous novels (White Noise and Omega) and his most recent novel, Zero K:
In Point Omega, we’re told: “The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever.” In White Noise, meanwhile, Jack Gladney already feels like he is the false character following his name around. Set in this context, DeLillo’s references to his earlier works throughout Zero K become another brilliantly deadpan joke. The book also becomes the place where all those wonderful books meet their end, although I hope not. I hope I’ve got it wrong – like most of us do when first reading late period DeLillo. I hope that there will be more books, both to blast apart this thesis and to intrigue us anew.
Joanna Newsom performed “Sapokanikan” and “Anecdotes” from her recent album Divers on Jimmy Kimmel this weekend, Stereogum reports, playing the former on the show itself and the latter as a web exclusive. Watch videos from both after the jump. (more…)
Until recently in Romania, prisoners could reduce their sentences by thirty days for each “book of scientific value” they wrote while behind bars. Now one man, who went to prison for fraud, is being accused of plagiarism by a woman who says one of the books he wrote reads eerily like her dissertation. He may not be the only one. Others who hired ghostwriters to create books for them to reduce their sentences may also be investigated—and wind up back in jail.
It’s very easy to be anonymous in Brooklyn, but it’s not as easy to make genuine, human connections, or even to form strong connection to this place, because things are constantly changing and constantly moving.
While McCoy Tyner is known far and wide for his indelible influence on jazz piano, his contribution to the genre would still be staggering if he had decided to throw in the towel in 1965, after leaving John Coltrane’s quartet. However, a few years later he began releasing his own records with the help of a rotating cast of musicians including saxophonist Joe Henderson, bassist Ron Carter, and his companion from the Coltrane days, drummer Elvin Jones. He continued to turn out lauded jazz music for decades, including his song “Happy Days,” which he wrote and recorded in 1995 for his album Infinity. Five years later, Tyner released a solo version of “Happy Days” that manages to capture its rollicking, joyous spirit and reanimate it using all the tools in the virtuoso’s toolbox.
Wednesday 5/25: Vietnamese-American writer Andrew Lam (Birds of Paradise Lost) is the son of a South Vietnamese general who emigrated to the US after the fall of Saigon. Lam was featured in the PBS documentary My Journey Home in which three immigrant American writers were followed as they paid visits to their ancestral homelands. He is the winner of a PEN Open Book Award. Free, 6 p.m. San Francisco Public Library.
David Schneider will discuss his biography of Philip Whalen, Crowded by Beauty: The Life and Zen of of Poet Philip Whalen. Free, 7 p.m., Diesel Books Oakland.
Thursday 5/26: Oakland’s Nomadic Press continues to publish quality books by local writers at an astonishing rate. Six of their best read tonight at Pegasus: Tango Eisen-Martin, Cassandra Dallett, Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, Allie Marini, Nick Johnson, and MK Chavez. Free, 7:30 p.m., Pegasus Bookstore Downtown Berkeley.