The Rumpus Book Club chats with Zoe Zolbrod about her new book The Telling, pushing against victim narratives, how the conversation surrounding sexual abuse has evolved, and the melding of research with memoir. ...more
So much of politics is symbolic speech in the service of the syncopations of the lives we actually live. But the ways we gather to vote is with our bodies. It’s the dance that goes along with those rhythms....more
What happens to a place when it can no longer define itself by its history, when it tears everything down? What is the rust belt without the plants, the factories? Who is the boy without his sister?...more
I wondered if he understood my joke, or its evasion, but surely he knew a used-car salesman always fudged his story. In fact, the car had been in my possession all of three weeks. Also, it didn’t exactly belong to me....more
Swati Khurana talks with novelist and translator Idra Novey about the challenges and joys of translation, the idiosyncrasies of language, the inextricable reception of women's writing and women's bodies, and much more. ...more
If there are indeed an infinite number of universes, it’s nice to think there might be one where all of the books we have come to know bear their original, author-intended titles. For the Paris Review, Tony Tulathimutte pulls back the curtain on the process of book naming to reveal that the title we see is often not given by the author, but generated by a marketing team with a very particular set of conventions and concerns:
The history of writers fighting for their book titles is extensive and bloody; so powerful is the publisher’s veto that not even Toni Morrison, fresh off her Nobel win, got to keep her preferred title for Paradise, which was War.
Following the release of his latest mixtape Coloring Book, Chance the Rapper spoke with Zane Lowe in a lengthy interview about the work, the recording process, and the artist’s growing collaborative relationship with Kanye West. Listen to the full conversation via okayplayer and stream the mixtape here.
Thomas Pierce made a name for himself as a talented spinner of strange stories with his debut collection Hall of Small Mammals, and in a new story at The Masters Review, Pierce crafts another weird and wonderful tale—and this time it’s written entirely in questions. “A Rouge Planet” plunges us into a universe where a planet with a face—that’s right, with eyes, a nose, and a mouth that can speak—has drifted into our galaxy, and the story’s narrator understandably has lots of questions:
Are you watching this too? Do you see the face? How come we’ve never even heard of this planet until now? Can you believe this is really happening? When you first heard the news of a planet that’s come creeping into our solar system, a planet with a face, did you assume they meant that figuratively? Does it scare you that they most definitely do not mean that figuratively?
This incessant questioning might get annoying pretty quick, but Pierce impressively uses the questions to reveal information about the planet and about the narrator. Plus, he makes it funny. We quickly learn that the narrator is speaking on the phone to an ex-girlfriend who he still obviously has a thing for. (more…)
At The Establishment, Amelia Shroyer pushes back against the idea that women must self-police their language in order to sound more ‘professional’ (read: like men):
Society has always valued the words of men more than those of women, to the point that men have been credited for discoveries or milestones actually reached by women, and that women have published their work under male pseudonyms just so people would engage with it. The problem isn’t what women are saying, or even how we are saying it; it’s that we are women saying it.
Despite its “near-canonical” status in America, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest is taking its sweet time in the translation process. So far, it has only been translated into five other languages. At Lit Hub, Scott Esposito spoke to writers and translators to get a feel for how non-English-speaking readers have received Wallace’s opus.
The question of access continues to plague the academic community—if academia is truly about knowledge and discovery, why are there still so many barriers to the unfettered sharing of information? The architects of digital “pirate libraries” around the world are trying to resolve that contradiction, violating copyright laws to bring expensive scholarly materials to the researchers (and data-hungry laypeople) who need them.
At the New York Times, Karl Ove Knausgaard describes how Joyce’s Portrait included him in literature’s potential in a way that Ulysses didn’t:
In “Portrait,” Joyce ventures inside that part of our identity for which no language yet exists, probing into the space between what belongs to the individual alone and what is ours together, exploring the shifts of mind, the currents of our moods and feelings as they flow blindly this way and that, and mapping the unarticulated, more or less salient presence of the soul, that part of our inner being that rises when we are enthused and falls when we are afraid or despairing.
This weekend is Memorial Day and I’m heading off on tour with my band The Yellow Dress to play Camp Daze fest in Missoula, we’ll be taking a short break from MC and be back June 14th. For more info on shows you can join out our wowlist. In the meantime:
Psychoanalyst and writer Adam Phillips talks with his editor, Ileene Smith, about unforbidden pleasures and his new book of the same title at FSG’s Works in Progress. Phillips respectfully declines Freud’s narrow of view of the origins of desire, pleasure, and inhibition, and hopes for new illumination. He ends by saying, “So I think that there’s a sense in which by privileging the forbidden, we’ve terrorized ourselves about our pleasures.”
Bad writing is almost always a love poem addressed by the self to the self. The person who will admire it first and last and most is the writer herself.
Over at the Guardian, writer Toby Litt explores what makes bad writing so terrible. Not only is bad writing boring and “written defensively,” but “bad writers often believe they have very little left to learn,” Litt says.
If you’re feeling like life’s getting out of hand, like everything’s just changing too fast in this ol’ world of ours, here’s a constant for you: Liam Gallagher is still being a total pain in the butt. Despite a cute journey into reconciliation with his brother, the tried and true insult-flinging has begun again with Liam’s typical flair: he has issued a statement that his brother is “a potato” and called David Holmes a “ginge,” i.e. a disparaging term for redheads (why there exists a disparaging term for redheads, we’ll never understand).
My head will talk to itself all day and all night if I let it. And my heart is less nutty, but it’s kind of like an overexcited child. I don’t trust my heart all that much either. My body is like a good horse. I trust my body.
American writers have issued a statement on Donald Trump’s candidacy for the Presidency of the United States. They are asking writers across the country to sign a petition signifying their agreement with the statement, which begins:
Because, as writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power;
And goes on to address many concerns Americans share about a potential Trump presidency. The petition has already exceeded its goal of 10,000 signatures. Click on the widget after the jump to add your name!
Boston’s City Hall and Mass Poetry, a Massachusetts-based poetry nonprofit, has embarked on an urban art project: They’ve stenciled poems onto Boston’s sidewalks using paint that only appears in the rain. Sara Siegel, the program director at Mass Poetry, says: “We want to bring poetry to the people. This is a fun, quirky way to do that.”
There is such a stark cognitive dissonance at present—Black writers winning prestigious literary awards and facing watermelon jokes in the same moment, White editors wanting racial diversity while still publishing racist poems.
With an introduction by new Editor-in-Chief Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, former contributing editor Casey Rocheteau dissects and describes what went wrong with “white peoples’ best intentions for diversity at The Offing,” at The Offing.