The more narratives that approach reality "differently" get treated as "insane" or "unreal," the less readers are exposed to them, and the more "unreal" or "insane" they seem. It's like a feedback loop....more
Christopher Moore discusses his latest book, Secondhand Souls, the permanence of place in San Francisco, Michael Bay’s take on marine biology, and why everyone from Shakespeare nerds to goth teens trusts him to deliver laughs. ...more
Pulitzer Prize–winning author Adam Johnson talks about his new book, Fortune Smiles, fiction and voice, veterans and defectors, solar-powered robots and self-driving cars, and infrared baseball caps that can blind security cameras. ...more
Reporter and writer Svetlana Alexievich recently won the Nobel Prize for literature. In a piece for the New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch brings up some questions that this poses about the relationship between reportage literature and other forms—is one more necessary or relevant in our current times? Should one form be envious or attempt to reproduce the effects of the another?
President Barack Obama appeared at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser at San Francisco’s Warfield Theater this weekend, and took the opportunity to give Kanye West, who was performing later in the night, some advice for his potential 2020 campaign. Read what the President counseled after the jump, and watch a video of the President speaking and Kanye’s performance via Consequence of Sound. (more…)
To interrogate what causes popular things to be popular is to focus on the responses to art offered by regular people with no expertise at all, which is to be, by definition, common.
Your favorite tumblog became a book and the excitement Linda Holmes is shaking with should be a lesson to us all: Slaughterhouse 90210 by Maris Kreizman stands as a cultural landmark that tells us to throw our “guilty pleasures” aside because Bojack Horseman and Clarice Lispector are perfectly compatible.
Over at Granta, Greg Jackson thinks about fiction in contrast with nonfiction, and how writers choose to write fiction precisely because they do not know exactly what they want to say, although it is expected that they do and are hiding it. He goes on to explore the process of achieving meaning, or at least the implication of meaning, in writing:
What may distinguish literature is it may offer us a method to investigate and arrive at points where the pregnancy of meaning is as great as the meaning itself is unnamable. The more accurate the word, the less it means—until at last we reach the proper name, the totem meant to encompass the full being, meaning precisely nothing in itself.
For The Awl, Sam Stecklow writes a detailed history of the Chicago Sun-Times‘s recent structural and cultural shift from a “gritty, urban, crime and fire and investigation daily newspaper” to a Sun-Times-branded national aggregated content network.
In a focused and engaging Saturday Interview, Arielle Bernstein talks to essayist Karrie Higgins—the author of a 2015 Best American Essay titled “Strange Flowers”—about the generative quality of chaos within the creative process. Higgins points to the influence of forensic science on her approach. “I keep little investigation notebooks with rough notes, maps, diagrams, magic spells, experiments,” the author admits. “It takes a very long time for them to start to feel like I’m ‘onto something,’ and that’s when an essay begins.”
Meanwhile, Ellen F. Brown reviews Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Claudia Emerson’s last collection, impossible bottle. The author’s struggle against colon cancer frames the poems in this courageous book. Here, tragedy is the subject of and motivation for art.
And in the Sunday Essay, Stephen Dau reports from Belgium, where the ongoing refugee crisis exposes the true characters of the Belgians and expats who witness it. (more…)
Over on Kill Your Darlings, Angela Meyer writes a lovely reflective essay on her time spent in Barnhill, where George Orwell stayed while he wrote 1984. She explores Orwell through the mess that might be 1984, the perfection of his essays, and the importance of a book he renounced, A Clergyman’s Daughter. Much like she did at times, in that room where Orwell wrote, the essay lights a candle for the author to remember him by.
The representation of writing students in film is an interesting one, as Leah Schnelbach explores for Electric Literature. There exists a trend in which writing students are shown to be young and innocent, learning from inadequate teachers. Schnelbach attempts to explain why this trend exists, and wonders if it can be changed:
…the public image of the writer is one of endless debauchery, drinking problems, deadline problems, and fuming ex-wives. Naturally it becomes much more interesting for a filmmaker to watch as the young writer is instructed in the writer’s lifestyle than in the painstaking craft itself.
Under the best conditions, they can add another wrinkle to certain literary works; under the worst, they can amplify already-problematic conditions. Personas can be a kind of alter ego; they’re also a kind of power. And, to paraphrase a fictional character, with that power comes the burden to use it responsibly.
Can dolphin sonar penetrate the steel hull of a boat—and pinpoint a stilled heart? Can dolphins empathize with human bereavement? Is dolphin society organized enough to permit the formation of a funeral cavalcade?
Joanna Newsom’s US tour dates have been announced for her new album Divers, which is coming out October 23rd via Drag City. But before the record hits stores and the tour begins, the video for the album’s titular track will be screening in theaters across the country. Like the video for “Sapokanikan,” released this past August, the video for “Divers” is directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. “Divers” was apparently shot in the home of NYC artist Kim Keever and features a good amount of her work, which also is a contributing element in theupcoming album’s cover art. Check out more information on the screenings as well as a full list of US tour dates here, and watch the video for “Sapokanikan” after the jump.
You know it’s fall because of the crisp air, the changing leaves, the decorative gourds, and, most importantly, because the fall issues of literary magazines are launching. This week was Virginia Quarterly Review’s turn. On Monday, its Fall 2015 issue dropped with five stories from Ann Beattie, Richard Bausch, Taylor Antrim, Praveen Krishna, and Elliott Holt.
Elliott Holt’s “Your Father Would Be Proud” is a story of sexual awakening and sexual reckoning. The story starts with an uncomfortable scene: an older dog mounting a puppy, barely in heat for the first time. (more…)