Posts by: Jesse Nathan

The Rumpus Interview with Rumpus Managing Editor Isaac Fitzgerald

By

One of the first times I had a real conversation with Isaac Fitzgerald was a couple of years ago at Mission Creek Café on Valencia Street in San Francisco. It was a Rumpus volunteer meeting—the site had no employees at that point—and he was trying to convince me to edit a massive transcript he was supposed to be sculpting into a zippy little interview for editor-in-chief Stephen Elliott.

...more

35

Chasing J.X. Williams: The Rumpus Interview With Noel Lawrence

By

Phantom of The Cinema  (1968)

J.X. Williams directed 54 feature films, wrote 78 screenplays, and compiled an FBI file 6,000 pages long.

Noel Lawrence has poured his life into the maintenance and curation of the J.X. Williams Archive, a vast and unsettling collection of photos, documents, and ephemera that tell in fragments the story of Williams’ life.

...more

Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova a.k.a. Gala Dali

By

dali220

Artists are fickle, except when they’re not, and then their lovers are. Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova was born in Tatarstan, Russia to a family of intellectuals — as a kid she hung out with future poet Marina Tsvetaeva. (Tsvetaeva would write in 1938 “I have no need of holes / for ears, nor prophetic eyes: / to your mad world there is / one answer: to refuse!” and three years later hang herself).

...more

A Novel, A Junta, A Murdered Bishop

By

A book—that’s an artifact, often long, filled with deep analysis, and pages, and made of paper—by Francisco Goldman undoes an electoral campaign, triggers assassinations, and drags its author into a political minefield in Guatemala. But can the tome bring closure to the eleven-year old investigation into the murder of human rights champion Bishop Juan Gerardi?

...more

Strunk and White take it on the chin

By

elements-of-style-50th-book-coverwidecThe Elements of Style, the classic writing handbook by E.B. White and William Strunk, Jr., just turned fifty. The New York Times celebrated by posting the opinions of five “experts” on its blog about the book. All of them turn their nose up at the book’s style and substance and so… it’s no surprise the Times‘ coverage unleashed a backlash.

...more

Florida’s Torture Chamber for Delinquent Boys

By

images2For 109 years, Florida has sent bad boys to the Florida School for Boys–for things like rape and assault, yes, but also for petty infractions like truancy or smoking in the bathroom, or sometimes because the state wanted an easy solution to a kid with no parents.

...more

1

True/Slant/Hmmmm

By

hunter-s-thompsonIt’s worth applauding the creative efforts behind True/Slant. It’s a website founded by a former AOL executive who’s hired 65 “knowledge experts.” “Knowledge experts,” in this context, means professional journalists or commentators, some of whom work for the New York Times, the Financial Times, or Rolling Stone.

...more

Across the Harbor, Silver-Paced… and Soon Defaced?

By

brooklynbridge

Decades ago, Hart Crane wrote “To Brooklyn Bridge,” his most famous poem. “And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced / As though the sun took step of thee, yet left / Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,– / Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!” Crane would be appalled to learn, then, that the Brooklyn Bridge will soon be blotted from view by an eighteen story commercial center.

...more

Show Your Work!

By

matthewzapruder500Matthew Zapruder proposes we meet the current explosion of variety coursing through contemporary poetry head-on with a new kind of criticism. Zapruder wants critics to talk a little less about what the poem said and a little more about how the poem said it.

...more

Be Knocked Flat

By

kumin-330Poetry readings are notorious for putting audiences to sleep. Which is why Poems Out Loud‘s devotion to the notion of experiencing poetry read aloud—and read well—is so thrilling. The site was inspired by Robert Pinksy’s just-published book Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud.

...more

1

A Jittery Spoonful of Surrealism

By

issue6Monkeybicycle.net is the punchy literary magazine edited by Steven Seighman and Eric Spitznagel. The mag publishes writers like Tao Lin and Ryan Boudinot, and the piece on the site’s main page, “Wish” by Mike Valente, is representative of Monkeybicycle’s aesthetic. “Wish” is a jittery spoonful of surrealism that lives at the corner of poetry and prose, and it’s surely unsure which it wants to be.

...more

Beautiful Booze Hags

By

fake_atm_receipt2In a flash that’s maybe as much prose poem as it is non-fiction (does it matter?), John Griswold injects us into a scene at the end of a man’s life. Three waitresses at the restaurant where the man ate every day for eight years show up at his bedside.

...more

How Not to Lie

By

prague_street2Alexei Tsvetkov calls Prague “a place where you wait for something to happen.” It’s from there he wrote this dispatch on the occasion of his recent (somewhat permanent) departure. It’s a meandering, dreamy piece drifting between nostalgia and a hard-nosed hope.

...more

Words Before the Doors Close

By

For a certain segment of the American Mennonite population, a segment whose ancestors passed through and lived in Germany, the language of the old country was low German. Low German’s Jewish counterpart is Yiddish–and it even sometimes sounds like it. Last March, Der Bote, then one of the last three remaining German language Mennonite periodicals on the continent closed its doors.

...more

Yelling ‘Bout Yelp

By

2178873787_bb9bd51e34The San Francisco-based website Yelp allows users to post reviews of businesses. The idea’s simple enough: trust consumers to tell you the truth about the kind of service you’ll get at this or that restaurant, or the kind of waits you’ll experience at this or that tire shop.

...more

The Bin Laden Machine

By

Only a few genetic lines–the Hapsburgs, the Hans, the Roosevelts, for instance–have shaped geopolitics as much as the Bin Ladens. In his NYRB review of Steve Coll’s The Bin Ladens, Frank Halliday details Coll’s methodical deconstruction of the inner workings both of this filthy rich family and the Saudi society that gave it wings.

...more

Agents of Information

By

The Internet was supposed to wash away the walls governments use to keep information from the people. But the Web is a resource and, like oil or art or love, corporate hands have capitalized in every way they can. While companies like Google and Microsoft help shuttle info at light-speed around the globe, they’re also helping repressive governments control the web.

...more

Random Brilliant Ephemera

By

“I won’t pretend to specialize or present myself as an expert in anything,” says Luc Sante, introducing his blog, Pinakothek. “Subjectivity is my middle name, a trick memory is my pack mule, and self-contradiction is my trusty old jackknife.” Sante proceeds to dazzle with a stream of images of odd, out-of-the-way, intensely interesting artifacts.

...more