The Rumpus Book Club chats with Martin Seay about his debut novel The Mirror Thief, the Great Work of alchemy, researching optical prosthetics, and keeping plot lines straight in a 600-page novel. ...more
Author Chanan Tigay discusses the complicated man at the heart of The Lost Book of Moses, the anxieties of writing true stories, how much to withhold from your reader—and tells a few jokes about creative nonfiction. ...more
It has been fifteen years, but I can still remember every moment of that year. It is cased in a vitrine, and the things I see through the wavy plexiglass are indistinct and as odd as that car going the wrong way on the parking garage ramp....more
This is a story about memory. About neurons misfiring, about the strange space between dream and awake, that feeling, when I’m falling asleep, of falling backwards, swinging my arms up to catch myself....more
Bernadette Murphy on her forthcoming book, Harley and Me: Embracing Risk on the Road to a More Authentic Life, the challenges of selling a memoir, and life beyond "the suburban-wife-mother picture." ...more
But to become a writer I needed at least to learn about my own superstitions. I needed space in the house to sketch with words. I needed to commit heresies. And those acts had to feel pleasurable....more
In the second installment of The Read Along, Omar Musa shares how airplane delays can lead to productive reading sessions and how easy it is to get sucked into Internet wormholes about geodesic domes. ...more
Poet Terese Svoboda talks about her biography of the socialist-anarchist firebrand and modernist poet Lola Ridge, Anything That Burns You, and remembers a time when the political was printed in newspapers. ...more
For TheMillions, Marcia DeSanctis shares how she learned to become a “second-career writer” after resisting her literary ambitions while working as a television news producer:
A stifled artist was scratching through all of my work identities, and though my jobs were fascinating I never really had the mettle to soldier on. I turned down more opportunities than I can count, and often thought to myself, “Because now it’s time to write.” At the last minute, bank account draining, courage always eluded me, and I moved on to another producing job.
The circus was small, a little tent in the center of a field, but of course we didn’t know it was small, we didn’t know there were bigger circuses in other places. We didn’t even know there were other places.
As part of Guernica’s bimonthly series “The Kiss,” graphic novelist Kristen Radtke has an illustrated story about a visit to the circus when she was a kid. But this was no ordinary show…
The Internet’s been freaking out about Kanye West’s latest bid to be the center of all things surreal about our culture: his video for the track “Famous” features breathing sculptures of celebrities who may or may not have given permission for their likenesses to be represented naked, as if asleep, and in bed together. West supposedly “explained” his intention behind the video to Vanity Fair, saying, “Matthew Barney is my Jesus,” and, “it’s a comment on fame.” So that clears everything up. Watch the full video here if you haven’t already.
Porn performers consent to have sex on-camera, but Stoya objects to the idea that she — or any other performer — is just a collection of orifices to which she’s signed away unrestricted penetration rights. The number of times you’ve said “yes” does not in any way disempower you to say “no” at any point, for any reason.
Stoya is not your average porn star—not only is she the antithesis of a blonde, fake-breasted bombshell, her work focuses on body- and sex-positive videos that show respect for all parties involved. And that work has taken on new importance since she publicly accused ex-boyfriend and porn actor James Deen of rape, which emboldened many other women to speak about his abuse.
July is almost upon us, and it’s time for an update on our Book Club and Poetry Book Club. There are no other book clubs that offers what ours do: books before they’ve been released to the public, a vibrant online community to discuss them with, and a chance to chat online with the author at the end of the month. And, our Book Clubs help us keep The Rumpus alive—so, you can speak with your favorite writers, read great books, and support the site in one fell swoop. (more…)
Overblown emotional posturing will go on, despite the occasional backlash, so long as clicks and voyeurism are the currency of the web. But perhaps with time, and with currently unimaginable technology, the rubrics by which we measure a person’s reliability will shift away from how well she’s able to perform her feelings online.
Wednesday 6/29: Indy Press Night at City Lights Books will celebrate the release of two new novels from lg press: Metaphysical Ukulele by Sean Carswell and Missile Paradise by Ron Tanner. Free, 7 p.m., City Lights.
Radio Station KPFA presents Pulitzer Prize winner Jane Smiley, who will be reading from the newly published Golden Age, the third novel of her American Trilogy (Some Luck, Early Warning, Golden Age). Smiley will be interviewed by KPFA radio personality, Kris Welch. $12-15, 7:30 p.m., St. Johns Presbyterian Church.
Cathleen Schine (The Three Wiessman’s ofWestport) reads from her new novel, They May Not Mean To, But They Do. Free, 7:30 p.m., Mrs. Dalloway’s.
During anti-government protests in the Ukraine in 2013 and 2014, Oleh Shynkarenko, a journalist and blogger, found himself turning to Facebook after some of his blog posts were deleted, presumably by security forces. What he shared was a novel about about a man whose brain was controlled by the Russian government, published in 100-word snippets on the social media platfrom (where authorities had less power). Now the book, Kaharlyk, is being translated into English by Kalyna Language Press for a late summer release date.
To research her book Without You, There Is No Us, Suki Kim worked undercover as an ESL teacher in North Korea. Kim was reluctant to call the work a memoir, believing that to do so “trivialized” her investigative reporting. The result was a backlash from critics, who called her undercover methods “dishonest.” At TheNew Republic, Kim responds to her critics:
Here I am telling my story to you, the reader, essentially to beg for acknowledgment: I am an investigative journalist, please take me seriously. I had been excluded from the insular world of journalism; perhaps, in the end, my anger is a reaction to that exclusion. As a woman of color entrenched in a profession still dominated by white men, I have been forced to use my writing not to explore topics of my own choosing, or to investigate the world’s complexities, but as a means to legitimize myself.
Read our own conversation with Kim about her experiences in North Korea here.
At the New Yorker, Amanda Petrusich writes an ode to Other Music, a New York City record shop that recently closed its doors after more than twenty years in business. For Petrusich, the store was more than a place to buy music; it was an important part of her personal history:
My scramble for self-identity was tied up in records, and Other Music was where I went to get myself sorted out. What did I like? What did I want? Which section did I want to start flipping through first, and what did that say about me?
The Atlanta-based post-punk band is releasing their first album, Deluxe, on July 8th and have been garnering anticipatory kudos around the Internet. Raven Sings the Blues wrote, “All the songs on their debut, Deluxe are bent and battered into metal shapes, though it’s their vocals that betray their new wave nods under the veneer of true grit punk spirit,” and Pitchfork noted that the group has “caught that essential combination of steely rigor and fiery energy, ripping out quick gems that exude control without sacrificing guts.” The trio includes Frankie Broyles (formerly of Deerhunter), Billy Mitchell, and Philip Frobos (of Carnivores). Watch the video for the song “Afterlife” after the jump and pre-order the album via Trouble in Mind Records. (more…)
Despite its uncanny salience in the context of this most recent wave of social injustice and protest, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout was written well before the #BlackLivesMatter movement began. Far from a coincidence, the book’s resonance is a product of the same paradox of time it describes, in which dated social conditions cannot possibly continue to exist, yet do:
All of the characters, regardless of how completely absurd they seem, are reacting to living in a time in which Beatty also resides; one in which he is daring to call something “‘Racism’ in a post-racial world.”
Jason Benjamin’s HBO documentary Suited, produced by HBO’s Girls co-creators Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner, is an eye-opening journey into the niche subject of dressing for success when you’re a gender nonconforming individual. Brooklyn bespoke tailoring company Bindle & Keep is a no-frills, two-person operation consisting of straight, cisgender male founder Daniel who fell into his calling through his non-binary, apprentice-turned-colleague Rae (née Rachel). Mixing cinema vérité with interviews, Benjamin’s film is fairly standard in approach—alternating between surface-deep snapshots into the lives of Bindle & Keep customers and the actual fitting process. It’s the clients themselves that are the true revelation—at least to me.
For even as a genderqueer chick it hadn’t really occurred to me that a white transman would have difficulty finding a suit for his wedding, or that a black, gender-nonconforming law student in conservative Georgia would struggle to find interview clothes. Or that a non-cis, blue-collar, NYC cab driver would want a suit to celebrate the big 4-0—let alone that a twelve-year-old would need proper clothing for a Bar Mitzvah. It’s not that I’ve never wanted to wear a suit myself. Quite the opposite—it’s that I’ve spent my life trying not to let that thought cross my mind. (more…)
Poetry is defined by a failure to live up to the hype it generates, promising divine transcendence through a medium that is essentially human. This is the paradox Ben Lerner articulates in his dissertation on The Hatred of Poetry. At The New Republic, Ken Chen doesn’t buy it:
You get the sense Lerner’s intellectualized peevishness about poetry is simply an elaborate defense, one that distances an author from the shame, discomfort, and vulnerability that comes from experiencing one’s own emotions.