The Rumpus Book Blog Roundup

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Greetings! Your humble guest-editor Michael is back in the saddle for another round of negotiating the highly-addictive world of the book blogs. I had an interesting week, where I had time to contemplate my imminent move to Bernal Heights and whether I should apply to those blasted MFA’s again and what it means that I can’t seem to stop watching post-apocalyptic movies and reading depressingly dystopian fiction.

But instead of doing that, I started reading the current issue of Harper’s that includes a scathing critique of Obama’s presidency so far and I started as well China Mieville’s The City And The City. Which is excellent, and not exactly dsytopian either. The book does make me cringe with envy: I swear I had the same idea! Anyway, back to sailing in the blogosphere, in which I find inspiration in other writer’s inspirations and I’m reminded yet again that one of the most appealing yet potentially overwhelming tasks of the writer goes by the name of Research.  Now without further asides, the book blog roundup.

Maud Newton, in her wisdom leads us to Monica Ali’s essay about why hotels are so fascinating for writers while also discussing her own hotel research that inspired her recent novel, In The Kitchen.

From The Book Bench this week, Laura Secor shares her essential books about Iran.

In a related note, Bookforum is re-running their own assessment from last spring of Iranian-American women in fiction.

At Poets And Writers, a Q&A with Jonathan Galassi, president and publisher of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, publishers of Denis Johnson, Wells Tower, Robeto Bolano, Marilynne Robinson, and other amazing writers. Galassi, when asked about his criteria for good fiction, elaborates on what he thinks is missing in today’s writing: “I think voice is kind of being killed in a lot of writing today. When you look at the New Yorker, the voices are much less idiosyncratic than they used to be. It’s being edited in a different way than it used to be.”

At the Guardian UK, Alison Flood investigates the Orwellian inspiration behind Haruki Murakami’s latest 1000 page novel, 1Q84 (as of yet not translated into English). Sex and violence, we learn, have “become more important issues” for Murakami because, as he explains, “these two elements can be described as important doors for entering deep inside the human soul.”

At Harriet The Blog, Annie Finch talks about why she embraces the mantle of “woman poet”.

The Book Beast explains how novelist Jim Lynch finds inspiration in the terror and tribulations along “America’s other border.” (That means you Canada.)

In other news, Jacket Magazine talks to Turkish poet Murat Nemet-Nekat (via Silliman’s Blog),  everyone’s favorite Leftist provocateur Alexander Cockburn becomes an American (Via Bookforum) and finally, on a graceful endnote, this: a “facility” that even Borges would have loved.


Michael Berger is a barely-published writer and book-seller living in San Francisco. He is one of the founding Corsairs of the Iron Garters Bike Club and is currently pursuing a degree in applied pataphysics. He sometimes eats oatmeal for dinner. More from this author →