Posts by: Charley Locke

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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Multicolored The Sound and the Fury Finally Published

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When William Faulkner originally published The Sound and the Fury, he wished Benjy’s narrative could be printed in different colors to denote different time periods, lamenting that “I’ll just have to save the idea until publishing grows up.”

Now it has: The Folio Society is publishing an edition of the novel colored as Faulkner envisioned it.

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The End of the World, and of Sixth Grade

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On Fresh Air, Maureen Corrigan reviews The Age of Miracles, a new novel by Karen Thompson Walker about “the slowing” of the world, told by an eleven year old girl, Julia.

“Sure, the natural world may be melting, but every bit as inexplicable and terrifying is the scene where Julia’s longtime best girlfriend turns into a popular pod person and freezes her out at recess one day.”

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“Beasts of the Southern Wild”

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Ella Taylor reviews Beasts of the Southern Wild, a film which “racked up a total of four major awards and a storm of press attention” at Sundance and Cannes. It focuses on “Hushpuppy, a motherless bayou waif living on the edge of multiple disasters” in “the Bathtub, a fictional wasteland on the wrong side of the tracks and the levee.”

“Zeitlin, a transplanted New Yorker and the son of two folklorists, wants us to experience Beasts as a fairy tale in a tradition reaching back to Grimm by way of Maurice Sendak.

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“Heck yes I’m willing to do this, I love peanut butter!”

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Have you been searching for a collection of peanut-butter related news to no avail? Look no further:

There’s a peanut-butter craving thief on the prowl in Ohio, who comes into a gas station most evenings after midnight and “snatches Reese’s peanut butter cups.” Last Tuesday, he upped his game, grabbing his usual sweets and then heading for “a saltier snack, grabbing a bag of chips” on his way out.

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Making Sense of the “Floating Cultural Stew”

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Over at the L.A. Times, David Ulin argues that the art of the contemporary essay is “in a renaissance.”

He praises the recent essay collections of Tom Bissell and Mark Dery, adding them to the ranks of books like Jonathan Lethem’s The Ecstasy of Influence, Geoff Dyer’s Otherwise Known as the Human Condition, Dubravka Ugresic’s Karaoke Culture, Jonathan Franzen’s Farther Away, and John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead, all of which walk “an exhilarating tightrope between the personal and the critical, their most fundamental inquiries those the authors make about themselves.”

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