With its trope of the hard-boiled, male detective, noir literature has historically had an inclusion problem. At Electric Literature, Nicholas Seeley discusses its burgeoning revival as protest literature against injustice:
Today it has a second chance—assuming it continues to draw in and cultivate new and challenging voices.
The YA novel The Face on The Milk Carton has marked a thrilling yet disturbing rite of passage for many young readers over the past 25 years, iconic right down to its simple, haunting cover—which many of those readers could easily conjure from memory....more
Jennifer Ouellette reports on recent studies of Wikipedia’s editorial hierarchy. While the site was founded on democratic ideals, the reality has turned into something quite different:
Their analysis demonstrates that Wikipedia is actually quite conservative from an evolutionary standpoint: it preserves those aspects that worked early on.
New motherhood: it’s common but totally strange, completely natural yet weirdly alien, a beautiful miracle and absolutely disgusting. It can also have some strong effects on a woman’s perception of self and identity, as Helen Phillips (The Beautiful Bureaucrat) explores brilliantly in her story “The Doppelgängers,” chosen by Lauren Groff at Recommended Reading this week....more
At Vela Magazine, Amy Bess Cook discusses living with epilepsy, and the problem with considering epilepsy as neurodiversity:
While one of these—grand mal seizures—overlaps with Sylvie’s, our conditions differ. Seizure causes, auras (the body’s precursory warning state), and severity leave room for infinite variety.
Tomorrow, Independent Bookstore Day will mark its second year of celebrating independent bookstores nationwide, with literary parties around the country. In cities and towns throughout the country, participating independent bookstores will host unique literary parties, including readings, raffles, scavenger hunts, story times, music, food trucks, and literary trivia....more
In the New Yorker, Richard Brody laments how little coverage there is of independent film in mainstream media. If film culture is to change for the better, he argues, critics need to step out of their comfort zone and focus less on wide releases:
It’s up to critics and editors to acknowledge what was already clear in 1969—the realm of movies, their substance and their distribution, has changed drastically, and the practice of criticism needs to catch up with it.
It’s hard to imagine a book written entirely in emoji that isn’t just about the conceit of writing an entire book in emoji, perhaps marketed as an Urban Outfitters coffee table book for guests to alternately smirk and groan at. And yet, as many digital natives know, emojis can be used in complicated and highly affective ways....more
It’s that time again! Time to talk about the actual stakes and misunderstandings of the vice-presidency.
Where’s my underwater bridge to Gibraltar?
All the turn of the century tornado pictures you could possibly be hoping for.
I’m sure you’ve been wondering about lizard sleep....more
There was no denying it, Athena was lost. She had walked the road to Deasey Castle for many years, but now, no matter what road she took, the glorious castle spires were no closer.
Escape the never-ending political sideshow for some fun fictional role-playing and follow Athena Kindness, warrior and opportunistic people-pleaser, through selections of her tumultuous journey to the castle on top of the hill, written by Wayne Gladstone over at McSweeney’s....more
I kept Plath’s “Magic Mirror” close by as I wrote my own thesis. This knowledge that someone else—a literary titan who had seen me through my own breakdown—had attempted a similar project, using a proxy form to interrogate a personal psychological past, helped me.
“All plots tend to move deathward,” the narrator of “White Noise” says. “This is the nature of plots. Political plots, terrorist plots, lovers’ plots, narrative plots, plots that are part of children’s games. We edge nearer death every time we plot.
In 2014, archivists discovered previously unpublished poems in the private collections of the late and great Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda. These found pieces will be available in English for the first time in Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda, available May 1....more
Hey! We’re white! And we all voted for Obama! Twice! We should do something to help the literary downtrodden.
American literature is already frustrating enough with publishing sorely lacking in diversity. But things can be even worse when the white-dominated industry tries too hard to appeal to writers of color....more
Over at Los Angeles Review of Books, Leah Mirakhor engages poet Robin Coste Lewis, 2015 National Book Award winner of Voyage of the Sable Venus, in deep and generous conversation about writing and life. Coste Lewis remembers Audre Lorde as a poet who “refused to condescend to her readers,” and who was a great inspiration to Coste Lewis’s seventeen-year-old self....more
Most libraries have limited physical shelf space, so if they want to purchase new books for their collections, often they have to remove some old ones. Two librarians, Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner, know this can be a tough pill for book lovers to swallow, so they’ve been working to bring attention to the issue through their blog, Awful Library Books:
They often feature books with outlandish titles, like “Little Corpuscle,” a children’s book starring a dancing red blood cell; “Enlarging Is Thrilling,” a how-to about—you guessed it—film photography; and “God, the Rod, and Your Child’s Bod: The Art of Loving Correction for Christian Parents.”
This is where poetry approaches music. Because you cannot put meaning in words as intellectually comprehensible. It’s just there, and you know it’s there. And it is the rhythm and the beat and the music of the sound that carries it.
For Electric Literature, Selin Gökcesu shares her experience rereading Jane Eyre. Though she had loved the novel in childhood, Gökcesu’s MFA experience and her “selective” adult perspective “eroded” her interest in the novel:
At thirty-eight, what I perceived as Brontë’s moral standpoint rubbed me the wrong way.
Check out Deborah Treisman in lively conversation with Lara Vapnyar on the “miracle of a New York City adventure,” the bewitching, wish-granting power of Leonard Cohen’s songs, and Russian immigrants.
Vapnyar’s forthcoming novel, Still Here, explores Russian culture in the US, friendship, and eternal life on the Internet....more
Two secular journalists in Bangladesh were murdered recently, and these are far from the first incidents:
These are only the latest in a recent string of killings of writers and journalists in Bangladesh. In a searing editorial Monday, the Dhaka Tribune called on authorities to work harder to arrest and prosecute the killers, who frequently attack in broad daylight, in front of witnesses.
Here’s what I mean by not centering the author of the workshop piece: I always tell my students, following the lead of my favorite MFA professor, that the truth is that workshop is most helpful to the person talking, not the person being workshopped.