Posts by: Daniel Gumbiner
Cunningham suggests, borrowing, ostensibly, from T.S. Eliot’s essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” that almost all contemporary work is some sort of veiled translation of previous, canonical/mythical work. We are the inheritors of a dialectical tradition that alters our work as our work alters it....more
Lehrer begins by briefly summarizing the “neural anatomy” of how we read: we have a “ventral route,” which, for a literate person is instinctual, quasi-unconscious reading and a “dorsal stream” which we use whenever we have to pay conscious attention to a particular sentence or passage (more commonly known in academia as “close reading”). Lehrer then claims that hard-copy texts force us to read consciously (or activate our “dorsal stream”) in ways that streamlined e-texts do not....more
UCLA has a number of videos up to celebrate Ray Bradbury’s 90th birthday, which is this Sunday.
In one of the videos Bradbury explains, unequivocally, how he made it to 90: “You have to love life completely. I have been in love with life everyday of my life.” The best way to describe Mr....more
The Guardian’s Book Blog lauds the American coming-of-age novel and asks why the British don’t possess the same bildungsromanic aptitude. Judy Blundell, Jandy Nelson and Simon Rich are cited as contemporary examples of our natural proclivity for the genre....more
How much does language shape our thinking capabilities? Does it exist only as a tool to reproduce/translate thought or does it take an active role the production of thought?
Lera Boroditsky, a professor of psychology at Stanford, examines the dialectic by which language both reflects and shapes thought....more
This Recording has a feature on the interviews between Mel Gussaw and Harold Pinter. Certain excerpts are absurdly quotable. For example, “MG: Do you feel that you have to guard against emotion? HP: I don’t quite understand you.” There are also some particularly incisive sections concerning the hazards of lyricism....more
Rumpus contributor Ryan Boudinot, author of The Littlest Hitler, talks with I09’s Charlie Jane Anders about his forthcoming novel, Blueprints for the Afterlife.
The novel takes place in a full-scale replica of Manhattan in Puget Sound (cue Synecdoche, NY comparison). Boudinot explains how, in the novel, he strove to replicate Murakami’s ability to have, “concrete and fantastical elements peacefully coexist.” Other influences: The Holy Mountain....more
Shetyngart touches on the death of silence, Russia’s antiquated notions of espionage and the state of American fiction. Also, if you haven’t already, read Shteyngart’s phenomenal personal essay in last week’s Book Review, and stay tuned for our very own Rumpus original interview with the man himself, coming soon!...more
Salon’s Laura Miller attempts to contextualize the work of Shirley Jackson (her “parton saint of oddballs”) within the American canon. Jackson, most famous for her story “The Lottery” (which you probably read in high school), was, Miller suggests, too “gothic” to be grouped alongside the curt realism of the Great 20th Century American (male) Novelists (Bellow, Roth, Updike, etc)....more
This Recording has a feature on Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s letter correspondences circa 1930. Fitzgerald appears insecure, liquored and thoroughly nostalgic while Zelda’s letters detail her consumption of sedatives and her struggle with Fitzgerald’s alcoholism and periodic inattention....more
PBS Newshour’s Zoe Pollock holds an epistolary interview with New Yorker editor Ben Greenmen concerning his new collection of epistolary fiction, What He’s Poised to Do.
Things get epistly real quick: Greenman, the former New Times film critic, discusses the impalpable nature of the digital age, reminds us what we lost when we stopped writing with pens and pencils and meditates on the origin of his impulse to write (1: Fight boredom, 2: Avoid misunderstanding). Interestingly, Pollock writes that, in an exercise of purposeful circumlocution, she and Greenman wrote their letters (on typewriters), scanned them and then emailed them to each other....more
Check out Flavorpill’s list of the 20th Century’s “most reclusive authors.” Is anonymity, as Salinger once said, “a writer’s greatest gift?” How limiting is the idea that writers are, by definition, hermetic? It seems that writers who like to promote themselves or entertain at readings tend to get characterized as “showmen” or accused of “glad-handing.” But isn’t entertainment something we need to remember to strive for?...more
“What could be the purpose of an exercise testing students on such a lacerated passage — one which, finally, is neither mine nor true to my lived experience?”
I can’t say I’m surprised that the standardized testing cosmos is methodically censored – it always seemed to possess an otherworldly wholesomeness. But the extent to which it is regulated and the surreptitious/unsanctioned nature of that regulation is a little bewildering. Removing all mention of Judaism from an Isaac Bashevis Singer story? Really? What is the purpose of cleaning up texts for mass testing? How old do you have to be to read the word “gay”?...more
Swan Songs offers three vignettes of America’s increasingly scant tradesmen. From Mr. Rogers ex-barber to the last standing champion of mechanical based typesetting, the Americana-drenched series from True/Slant makes us think about what we lost when we stopped using our hands....more
“It operates in marginal subcultures and it stars determined though hapless dreamers… It pits the art of violence against the violence of art.”
Katherine Dunn – who ostensibly dematerialized after her 1989 novel Geek Love (which was nominated for a National Book Award) – has a short story in the summer issue of the Paris Review....more
“This is why, to a Jew, it always comes as a shock to encounter stupid Jews. Philip Roth derived a major theme of Goodbye, Columbus from the uncanny experience. The shock comes not because we have never encountered any stupid Jews before — Jews are stupid in roughly the same proportion as all the world’s people — but simply because from an early age we have been trained, implicitly and explicitly, to ignore them....more
“I should be perfectly happy if it were not for the fleeting pain of trying to probe the secret of that happiness, so as to be able to find it again tomorrow and always. But perhaps I am confused and my happiness lies in that pain....more
“I had wanted to make an interpretation of me giving all of myself to my work… I wanted to convey that the cans were exploding with color, and that’s how my art was being created.”
- Rene Gagnon, street artist
In case anyone forgot, the Department of Homeland Security does not approve of – we repeat, does not approve of – you placing stickers that show a man with “his arms outstretched and his face pointed to the sky” and what “looks like a bomb” strapped to his chest, on airport trashcans....more
PPB, the serendipitous joint venture of natural history publisher Noel Carrington and Penguin founder, Allen Lane, was born out of a desire to provide salient and instructive information for British youth during WWII....more