Wednesday 11/26: The Berkeley Slam presents Sock Puppet Slam—yes, all three-minute poems are performed with sock puppets, with special guest feature Caitlin Gill ($7-10, 7:30 p.m. signup, show at 8:15 p.m., The Starry Plough)....more
Women read books written by women and men read books written by men, reports the Guardian. A study of Goodreads data suggests that people prefer reading books written by those who share their gender. The study also reveals that men and women read roughly the same number of books; however, women read twice as many books published in 2014 as men did....more
Etgar Keret has a new short story at the New Yorker, and an interview with Deborah Treisman afterwards. When she asks him about the piece’s political connotations, he gifts her the courtesy of a joke:
There is an old Israeli joke about an Israeli-Palestinian who finishes his law studies and goes to ask for a job at a big Tel Aviv-based law firm.
To what extent am I reading Ulysses by following Ulysses Reader? What does “reading” even mean at this point, given our near-constant engagement with text?
For Slate, David Rosenberg explores the work of Bryan David Griffith, who spent the year photographing independent bookstores around the US. According to Griffith, the project is not meant to be nostalgic, but rather serves as a “study about the retail space, and how it might be a lot different 30 years from now.”...more
In the wake of So This Is Permanence, a recently released archive of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis’s notebooks, Jillian Mapes reflects on why artists’ scribblings mean so much to fans:
“It’s a human reaction to see handwritten things, as opposed to typewritten things, as being quite intimate,” Savage tells me.
How it all got so bad is a blur. I blocked the door. I blacked out the basement windows. I remember myself curled in feral positions, sounds on repeat getting louder, climbing up and out of the window to piss in the grass.
For The Millions, Alex Engebretson argues that despite the twenty-four year gap between the publication of Marilynne Robinson’s first and second novel, the author’s recurring themes and imagery present a “singular vision”:
Instead of an author who recreated herself late in her career, Robinson is one who has returned and renewed imaginative possibilities already latent within her first book.
Who would’ve thought Bertolt Brecht would turn out to be such a romantic? While his newly released Love Poems are surprisingly erotic compared to his better-known plays, they retain that Marxist flair we know and love:
Brecht’s love poems might just as easily be dubbed the death of love poems, since he is concerned with the vicissitudes of love, with the manner in which one is first defined and then destroyed by love.
After years of financial struggle, Barnes & Noble’s enlists renowned authors like Donna Tart, David Mitchell and Neil Gaiman to help compete with Amazon this holiday season. While Tart and Mitchell will contribute thousands of signed books to helps bolster sales, Gaiman has planned appearances at several of the chain’s bookstores....more
will really return next Monday. I can’t begin to say how thankful I am for all of you who’ve been reading this dang thing for so long and for the whole Rumpus community. See you soon....more
We’re getting ready to send out our next Letter in the Mail and it’s from Amy Butcher! Amy asks did we enjoy our Halloweens? Then, she tells us about about one of her most memorable Halloweens, when she was 15 years old, and asks the question, “Why, dear reader, had I not gone with my gut?”....more
I couldn’t sell them to Chicago for landfill.
Patrick Modiano was practically unknown in America until he won the Nobel Prize, but David Godine, an independent publisher, has had boxes of his books for years. The Boston Globe has a profile of Godine and his dedication to producing what he calls “unsellable books.”...more
Almond stalks through his arguments against the modern state of football at a pace that is both clipped and highly personal. There is a lot of shame here, a discomfort with being complicit in that “system” lying at the root of his angry screed.
In the Saturday Interview, May Cobb talks with Austin-based multi-instrumentalist Guy Forsyth about The Freedom to Fail, his first studio album in six years. In a touching aside about his daughter, Forsyth explains the album title: “…she can only grow to the extent that she reaches for things.” Their discussion is framed by the backdrop of Austin, Texas, the continually metamorphosing “Live Music Capital of the World.”
Then, in a review of the “masterful” and “personal” Blood, Sparrows and Sparrows, Kenji Liu highlights the gradually evolving voice of poet Eugenia Leigh....more
In essence, the American Book Awards are to the National Book Awards as New Coke is to Coca-Cola Classic, i.e., a complete fucking disaster, one that all parties involved would prefer to forget.
The Paris Review takes a look at the brief, dark moment when the National Book Awards tried to re-brand themselves....more
Most writers aspire to clarity in language. Politicians, of course, are the exception. Legislators are turning to language to obscure their intentions, claims Steven Poole over at the Guardian. Poole cites a trade deal between the EU and the United States that confounds the issue of tariffs known as TTIP:
One might be forgiven for concluding from this, and in general from the obfuscatory and often downright misleading bureaucratese in which TTIP’s aims are framed, that they are trying to hide something.
This week I read a lot about rape.
I became aware that Bill Cosby was almost certainly a rapist about 10 years ago, when Andrea Costand brought a civil suit against him that included 13 women with similar accusations. Her story and motives were questioned; the case was settled out of court; and I was left with a familiar feeling, the foggy-headed queasiness that comes from living in a world where probable or known sex offenders are walking right beside you, or up there starring on the screen....more
How does one write a mouse-washing scene? There aren’t a lot of examples in literature, and in any event I didn’t want my mouse-washing scene to be contaminated by the work of other fiction writers.
For Electric Literature, Jeff Vandermeer explains how he overcame the age-old challenge of describing a character washing a mouse....more