“I have a kind of weird story related to death. Something my father told me. He said it was an actual experience he had when he was in his early twenties. Just the age I am now. I’ve heard the story so many times I can remember every detail.
Don’t let that stack of rejection letters get you down. For writers of all kinds—would-be, struggling, under-appreciated, even critically acclaimed—failure is part of the job description. At the New York Times, Stephen Marche describes a writing profession riddled with disappointment and missed connections, from the ever-frustrating publishing world to a reader’s power of interpretation....more
This was my first experience of being fictionalized. I still recall the yellow-white flash of queasiness, the mortification: a sense of powerlessness and an utter lack of recourse.
What if a writer friend—or, worse, relative—of yours turned you into one of his characters, maybe in an unflattering way?...more
For years, film buffs have been devouring companion material to the original works that captured their interest—deleted scenes, commentary, bloopers, most eagerly that much-loved paean to auteurism, the director’s cut. To accept this practice is to acknowledge the impossibility of artistic perfection; as the saying goes, “art is never finished, only abandoned.” The New Republic wonders why the literary world is so hesitant to make the same admission....more
Personal narratives offer writers an important source of inspiration for their writing. Writers edit out the dull portions of their lives to create a version that is both interesting and representative of a kind of universal experience. Kim Triedman writes at Beyond the Margins:
It is a symbiotic relationship to the core.
How can writers get a room of their own, literally or figuratively? In Away, an essay in the summer issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review, Roxana Robinson writes about carving out private space in the midst of being over-saturated by the world around you:
You can call it a blessing, I suppose: You’re never bored.
In an interview with Daniel Olivas for the Los Angeles Review of Books, debut novelist Natalia Sylvester talks about growing up in Peru, learning characters’ secrets, and what happens when you set aside a story for nearly six years. “Our pasts are never left behind,” she concludes ominously....more
Good literature demands strong criticism, but today’s culture of niceness has limited critics. Lee Klein, writing in 3:AM Magazine, points out that writers’ interest in receiving positive feedback often leads them to forgo standards and slant reviews positively:
Literary citizenship is about buying books, subscribing to lit mags, going to readings.
We’re beyond bummed to let you know that Roxane Gay is leaving the Rumpus to focus on other endeavors (like her two new books, the recent novel An Untamed State and the imminently forthcoming essay collection Bad Feminist). Roxane is as much a part of the site as anyone, and we hope she won’t be stranger around here....more
When you read Roger Angell, you can (it’s cheesy, but true!) smell clover and hear the crack of a baseball against a baseball bat. Angell is synonymous with baseball writing, and this week, he’s being inducted into the Hall of Fame....more
Debuting what is surely one of the longer titles in literary history, Bethany Billman has published a piece called, “Lost Scenes from Generic Hipster Indie Romance Films Found in 2076 During a Museum Restoration of an Old MacBook Air and Subsequently Adapted for the Stage During Heritage Week at a Camp for 7th and 8th Graders Later That Summer.” It may not tell us much about 2076, but we are always grateful for the chance to refine our definition of “hipster....more
Invisibility has a long literary history, from science fiction, like in H.G. Wells’s Invisible Man, to fantasy, like in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Often, the difference is between methodology and motive. Wells focused on scientific accuracy to illustrate “the messy outcome of this collision between science and myth.” Tolkien employs invisibility as metaphor; the magic behind it is unimportant....more
Will return tomorrow! Thank you for your patience, we are SO sorry....more
Peter Madsen: So where does this start?
Brian: It starts with my moving from Long Island to Orlando, Florida. I wasn’t getting along with my immediate family, so I moved in with my grandpa and I started going to college. Then I met this guy at school.
Notably, there are a few verbal tics that we mistakenly think index insecurity, even though they don’t. These (mostly feminine) quirks—uptalk, vocal fry—are often subtle expressions of power, innovativeness, or upward mobility. In fact, Adam Gopnik recently wrote about how verbal fillers like “um” and “you know” underscore a speaker’s conscientiousness, her sensitivity to the details she must, for reasons of economy, leave unsaid.
Let’s dedicate this week to the publications, editors, and benevolent marketing gurus who unleashed a whole bunch of quality FREE short fiction to us. Under the shadow of the FCC’s impending decision as to whether or not net neutrality will continue, these all-you-can-read buffets taste even sweeter....more
Domestic violence is so common in the United States—every 9 seconds a woman is assaulted—it rarely makes headlines....more
The game is currently in the development and crowdfunding stage, but it already looks pretty interesting, even psychedelic. Its title, In Ulysses: Proteus, comes from the chapter of the novel that it tackles. In it, Dedalus wanders across a desolate beach, closes his eyes, and ponders the shifting nature of reality and the disconnect between his inner self and the external world.
The Baffler has a newly designed website, which includes all of its 25 issues, available for free. With so much talk about the New Yorker opening its digital gates this summer, let’s not forget “the Journal that Blunts the Cutting Edge.” If you need some ideas of where to start, Dan Piepenbring has recommendations at the Paris Review....more