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....more
Posts by: Charley Locke
Eventually the bruises and the rage faded, but not the fear. The fear remained. An awful withering dread that coiled around my bowels — that followed me into my dreams.
Author Junot Diaz writes about the first time he got beat up, how it created a debilitating fear that stayed with him for years, and how he moved past it....more
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....more
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....more
Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted.
Juan Vidal examines how T.S. Eliot, Flannery O’Connor, and Madeleine L’Engle approach prayer, and how prayer helps one derive meaning in a creative life....more
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....more
“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....more
“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....more
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.
In a secular age, I suspect that reading fiction is one of the few remaining paths to transcendence, that elusive state in which the distance between the self and the universe shrinks. Reading fiction makes me lose all sense of self, but at the same time makes me feel most uniquely myself.
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.”...more
Amazon uses the BS Machine to sell us sweetened fat to live on, so we begin to think that’s what literature is. I believe that reading only packaged microwavable fiction ruins the taste, destabilizes the moral blood pressure, and makes the mind obese.
I felt the bios and intros depleted the magic. Each sequence of words is a spell, and when you follow one spell with another spell, they compound, building off the energy of the previous spell. It reinforces the inherent value of language.
This year marks Dante’s 750th birthday. But on what date should The Rumpus host our purgatorio-themed party? More importantly, what was Dante’s zodiac sign?
If you’re a fastidious reader of The Divine Comedy and your horoscope, you should know the answer without a date: Dante’s journey to the Underworld is a classic Gemini move....more
As a first time novelist, I thought it would be fun to read what people had said about my book [on Amazon]… One of them said that it read like an MFA exercise. And that really hurt, because it was an MFA exercise.
So begins a piece on NPR from Roxane Gay on the New York Times’s 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....more
Philip Roth’s retirement may well go down in history as one of the literary world’s greatest pranks.
Over at The Baffler, J.C. Hallman takes a look at whether the literary giant has actually retired, despite giving interviews and and participating in conferences and receiving awards—and whether the very idea of a writer retiring is “to cheapen that role.”...more
I’m so mean-spirited. I wrote all my mother’s slights down. There were so many of them.
So explains Sally Mann, photographer and author of recent memoir Hold Still, who goes through some old boxes at Book Page, from uncovering family secrets in the attic to a few juicy examples from her “bulging file called ‘Maternal Slights.’”...more
While author Gary Shteyngart won’t blurb your book, he did agree to write a new introduction to Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein....more
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....more
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....more
“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....more
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.
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....more
“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....more
Sylvia Plath may not be best known for her paper dolls, but we don’t usually envision Mark Twain as an avid fan of scrapbooking, either.
Check out this cool collection of the artwork of famous authors, which also includes William Burroughs’s gunshot paintings and Charles Bukowski’s watercolors....more
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....more
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.”...more