Novelist Joshua Cohen gives an interview, digital, about his new novel, paper, but also digital, about the Internet, digital, subsuming the novel, even his novel, best on paper, Book of Numbers. ...more
Austin Bunn talks about his new story collection, The Brink, his latest script for a short film, In the Hollow, working in multiple mediums, and why some novels read like early drafts of screenplays. ...more
In Yearbook #2, Alysia Abbott talks about her memoir Fairyland, a storytelling and community project for children of parents who died of AIDS, and how upsetting is can be to pour through old journals. ...more
For nearly ten years I had lain beside him: the snoring was a blow, but, looking back, it was also a necessary portent, an etch in our story, the fuzzy spot on a picture frame you can’t tell is from the photograph aging or a fingerprint that left its caressing mark on the glass. ...more
Over the holiday weekend, Linton Weeks wrote for NPR’s History Dept. on the critical role of librarians in World Wars I and II. Weeks spoke to Cara Bertram, an archivist for the American Library Association:
The books that did make it into the hands of the troops, she says, boosted morale, provided connections to people back home and offered technical guidance.
She adds that the books from home were therapeutic for those convalescing in hospitals,” helping them to get over physical and emotional pain.” And certain books helped to alleviate homesickness, chase away boredom and provide training to those who wanted to land jobs when they returned home.
Over at Electric Literature, Steve Paulson interviews legendary literary critic James Wood, who comments on a variety of subjects: what makes a good critic; the plight of reading widely in our contemporary age; literature as analogous to religion; genre fiction; his friendship with the aging Saul Bellow. A very lovely interview filled with literary appreciation, and worth checking out.
I’m like an alien in a human body. I come from a different place, a different plane of existence. I can’t explain that other place because I don’t know it in this lifetime, I don’t have memories of it, but I know it is a softer place. I’m not comfortable with life on Earth. This life here feels really harsh and painful. It has felt like torture here a lot of the time.
At The Chronicle of Higher Education, the writer behind @AcademicsSay (better known as “Shit Academics Say”) reveals himself as Nathan Hall, an associate professor at McGill University. In addition to his reveal, Hall discusses how the popular Twitter account allowed him to connect with a much wider community of academics and create wide-ranging participation studies on the psychological stresses and challenges academics face in this professional climate.
Monday 7/6: Terry Masear discusses and signs Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood. 7 p.m. at Book Soup.
It’s the first Monday of the month, which means it’s time for the Speakeasy/Open Mic Night! All those times in June when you said “I can’t, I’m writing” instead of doing that thing? Now’s your friends’ chance to tell you to show them what you’ve been working on. Sign-ups start at 7:45 p.m. at The Last Bookstore.
Then, in the Saturday Review of Mad Max: Fury Road, Devin O’Neill explores the movie’s seeds of feminist thought. Though the film is undeniably brutal and violent, O’Neill highlights its anti-patriarchal implications. The story, he argues, is “about possessiveness, and about how generosity and compassion… redeem the world and the individuals in it.”
All-you-can-read subscription services are finding that readers of romance novels are heavy users. The service Scribd is removing some romance titles because voracious sex-fiends are reading too many of the sultry books. Over at Electric Lit, Lincoln Michel explains why heavy users hurt the economics of these services:
Let’s say you are paying creators two bucks an ebook, and most people read two books a month, then you paying four bucks to publishers/authors and keeping 5 bucks yourself. Everybody is happy. Authors and publishers get a fair cut, readers get unlimited books, and Scribd makes a profit. But if a certain subset of readers–romance and erotica fans apparently–start reading five or ten or twenty books a month, then you are losing more money than you earn.
For Pictorial at Jezebel, Kelly Faircloth interviews Helen Castor, the author of Joan of Arc: A History, a book that attempts to recreate the context into which Joan of Arc emerged in history:
What was different about what Joan was saying was that she was saying that God was commanding her not only to convey information to her king, but also to take up arms…. Because while it was clear that God might speak to an individual and might send a message through even a 17-year-old peasant girl, so might the devil. So the million-franc question was, had Joan been sent from heaven or had she been sent from hell?
In the interview, Castor also addresses how this singular emergence allowed Joan of Arc to stand out in history, available for co-opting by future causes looking for icons and standards.
We have a new Monthly Book Report coming out on Monday! If you haven’t already subscribed, today is the day. You don’t want to miss our roundup of the stellar fiction, nonfiction, and poetry reviews that went up on the site this past month—plus, we throw in a Rumpus Original Fiction story for good measure. Sign up now!
Why do we refer to our minds in terms of seas and cartography, anyway? Find out by consulting your sextant and the first online metaphor map. The chart boasts over 14,000 metaphorical connections, sourced from 4,000,000 lexical data points by a few Scottish researchers who now (presumably) have some excellent new phrases for spinning yarns and embroidering thoughts at dinner parties.
I can’t imagine not being a writer. Maybe this seems a failure of imagination. I know that if I needed a steadier and better income, I’d be better off going back to school and becoming a doctor or accountant. When people ask me if they should become writers, I tell them yes, if the experience of writing—all by itself—brings them joy. Because that’s the only way they’ll reliably find it.