Posts by: Charley Locke

How to Chart a Course Through the Metaphors in Your Mind

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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.

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What You Can Read at the Guantánamo Bay Detainee Library

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Prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay have access to 18,000 books in 18 different languages, including Arabic translations of King Lear, Anna Karenina, and Stephen King thrillers. But books deemed critical of the US government, including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Noam Chomsky’s Interventions, and various John Grisham novels, are banned.

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Preserving Dostoevsky’s Prose

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What’s one English word to sarcastically communicate Russian cosmopolitan refinement? How would you translate a page-long sentence from Tolstoy, or “the cacophonous competing voices of Dostoevsky”?

Larissa Volokhonsky and Richard Pevear (who have been married for 33 years) have translated over 30 works from Russian to English, beloved by readers worldwide (including Oprah) and praised for communicating the idiosyncrasies and styles of the original works.

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Joan Says Goodbye, Taylor Says Hello

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Andrew Bomback steps into the conversation between Eula Biss and Joan Didion about “Goodbye to All That” and the myth of New York City, bringing along Taylor Swift as his guest. In its author’s privilege and its message of youthful possibility, “Swift’s ‘Welcome to New York’ is far more Didion than Biss,” he writes.

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Like Peeping Over the Edge of the World

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“It’s like peeping over the edge of the world while remembering you’ve left your spectacles on the kitchen table,” she writes of her cruelly paradoxical situation: knowing that death is on its way without knowing when exactly it will arrive.

Jenny Diski has inoperable lung cancer—and the prolific British essayist has chosen to write through it, often addressing her cancer in a “pull-me, push-me” structure alongside the three years she spent as the foster daughter of Doris Lessing.

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Live-Tweeting Grief

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“The challenge of memorializing doesn’t favor professionals,” writes Sean Minogue over at Full Stop. So, how are autobiographical narratives of loss by Karl Ove Knausgaard, Joan Didion, or Paul Auster different from therapeutic journaling? Minogue takes a look at how these authors express the everyday details of living after a loss, and how new forms of written self-expression, like Twitter, shifts the line between personal and public grieving.

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Which Norwegian Author Is Your Favorite Beatle?

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I think of the four elder statesmen of Norwegian letters as a bit like the Beatles: Per Petterson is the solid, always dependable Ringo; Dag Solstad is John, the experimentalist, the ideas man; Karl Ove Knausgaard is Paul, the cute one; and Fosse is George, the quiet one, mystical, spiritual, probably the best craftsman of them all.

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Would You Rather Babysit Cathy Ames or Christine Hargensen?

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What do Yukio Mishima, Tana French, Shirley Jackson, and John Steinbeck have in common?

They’re the masterminds behind a couple of the most evil fictional youngsters of all time, according to a list compiled by British bookstore Abebooks. The list shuns contemporary malevolent characters in favor of the “utterly evil” children of yore, reasoning: “While Draco, Augustus, Violet and Veruca may be distasteful, they are actually quite mild-mannered compared to some of the horrible children literature has to offer.”

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Roxane Gay on NYT’s Alabaster Summer Reading List

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“Another day, another all-white list of recommended reading.”

So begins a piece on NPR from Roxane Gay on the New York Timess newly released summer reading list, which features zero authors of color. Gay argues that national outlets with wide-ranging audiences, like NYT or NPR, should not and cannot afford to continue leaving out extraordinary works by a diversity of authors.

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How to Buy Heidi Julavits’s Self on eBay

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Author Heidi Julavits’s predominant self is hiding inside this matryoshka doll.

Over at the Paris Review, in an interview with Leanne Shapton, Julavits answers each question with an eBay auction listing. What listing would you choose to answer the query, “What sort of highly valuable or beloved object would you feed to a shark to save your life?” Hopefully not your copy of Women in Clothes, coedited by Shapton, Julavits, and Sheila Heti.

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A Séance for Robert Browning

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The voice of the dead man was heard speaking… In breathless silence the little, awed group stood round the phonograph, [as] Robert Browning’s familiar and cheery voice suddenly exclaimed: “Ready?”

Poet Robert Browning may not have been able to remember all the words he wrote, but he does bear the distinction of the first literary figure to record his voice, in April 1889.

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Murakami Plays Dear Abby

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“There’s no use of me singing ‘I can’t stop loooooooving you’ to you, I suppose.”

We beg to differ, Haruki: The Rumpus would love to hear your crooning Ray Charles rendition. Alas, author Haruki Murakami hasn’t serenaded us yet, but he has committed to responding to over 40,000 letters in his advice column (site in Japanese), including his musings on feline egos.

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Charles Simic on Walt Whitman

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Poet Charles Simic may prefer the “pleasant aftertaste” of a literary amuse-bouche before bed, but when prompted about one of his favorite literary passages, he chose Walt Whitman’s “A Sight in Camp in the Daybreak Gray and Dim.” Over at the Atlantic, Simic explains why the poem moves him through the context of his experiences growing up in Belgrade during WWII:

I’m not a person who gets teary-eyed reading poetry—other people’s poetry, or my own.

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On Finding Shade in the Spotlight

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How much do we know an author after reading his or her work? What right does a reader have to criticize or judge an author’s writing?

Sarah Gerard, whose novel Binary Star was just reviewed on The Rumpus, and Ben Fama, who we recently interviewed about his book of poetry, Fantasy, compare notes on navigating the public and the private, the online and the offline selves.

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Vivian Gornick and a Life of One’s Own

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Giving up on love has been the work of a lifetime for Gornick,” writes Laura Marsh in a review of reporter, author and feminist Vivian Gornick’s new memoir, The Odd Woman and the City. In the first-ever installment of her Rumpus series “Conversations With Writers Braver Than Me,” Sari Botton interviewed Gornick on how to write vivid, honest nonfiction about the people she has loved, including ex-husbands and lovers.

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Come Hear Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life

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You’re in San Francisco, no? And you like stories? Very brief ones? About Jewish life? Told live? Who doesn’t?

Regardless of your answers to those questions, come to the SMITH Live Story Show on Thursday, July 12th! Here’s the deal: kind of like The Moth and Porchlight, the storytellers (including SF Chronicle columnist Leah Garchik and Literary Death Match host Alia Volz) will reveal a six-word memoir on Jewish life and then tell you a six-minute backstory.

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“The Profundity of Female Friendships”

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At The New Yorker, Anna Holmes writes about how “Girls” and Sheila Heti’s new novel How Should a Person Be? “treat heterosexual coupling as secondary, and how they depict the profundity of female friendships, not to mention their real perils—which are quite different from the competitive jockeying that is so often imagined.”

Holmes proposes that these texts may signify “the beginnings, perhaps, of a revolution in the way women’s relationships are discussed.”

Read Emily Rapp’s wonderful essay on the power of female friendship here.

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