We have a new Monthly Book Report coming out on Monday! If you haven’t already subscribed, today is the day. You don’t want to miss our roundup of the stellar fiction, nonfiction, and poetry reviews that went up on the site this past month—plus, we throw in a Rumpus Original Fiction story for good measure....more
Saturday 7/4: Macy’s celebrates independence from the English King with fireworks. East River, 9 p.m., free....more
Why do we refer to our minds in terms of seas and cartography, anyway? Find out by consulting your sextant and the first online metaphor map. The chart boasts over 14,000 metaphorical connections, sourced from 4,000,000 lexical data points by a few Scottish researchers who now (presumably) have some excellent new phrases for spinning yarns and embroidering thoughts at dinner parties....more
At The Billfold, Christine Sneed gets real about the long, hard path to finding success writing books—even after being published—and why she wouldn’t have chosen a different career path regardless:
I can’t imagine not being a writer. Maybe this seems a failure of imagination.
In fact, as far as his daily life went, “Lewis Carroll” was a complete non-person. Charles was always known personally only by his real name, letters directed to the pseudonym were returned unanswered, and he would walk away if strangers dared to mention “Alice” in his presence.
If you’re looking for something to read over the Fourth of July weekend, you’re in luck. This week gave us brand-new issues of Virginia Quarterly Review and PANK to peruse in the beer-buzzed downtime between barbecues and fireworks.
VQR’s summer issue is all about California, “as an idea and a place,” as the Editor’s Note says....more
Eventually the bruises and the rage faded, but not the fear. The fear remained. An awful withering dread that coiled around my bowels — that followed me into my dreams.
Author Junot Diaz writes about the first time he got beat up, how it created a debilitating fear that stayed with him for years, and how he moved past it....more
Prisoners held at Guantánamo Bay have access to 18,000 books in 18 different languages, including Arabic translations of King Lear, Anna Karenina, and Stephen King thrillers. But books deemed critical of the US government, including Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Noam Chomsky’s Interventions, and various John Grisham novels, are banned....more
According to research by the Global Media Monitoring Project, women comprise 24% of the people read about or heard in print, radio, and television news—a statistic that has changed very little in the last twenty years. The Women’s Media Center outlines actions being taken around the world to combat gender bias in media reporting....more
I have heard writers take a stand that they are above Twitter and Instagram, superior for not participating in social media. It’s true the self-promotion feels inauthentic and tacky, but it can be brave to participate in the conversation with good intention.
Lilian Min writes for The Toast about the tangled politics of ugly food:
I grew up in a household that was comfortable with farts, burps, intense smells, and food that facilitated all of the above. My dad would eat raw garlic and chase my sister and me around the kitchen, and then the whole family would sit down for dinner rich in not just garlic, but also ginger, hoisin sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, and a thousand other strong scents and flavors.
If you win, then you talk to the other winners, congratulating and praising them. If you lose, then you read through your submission, noting mistakes that weren’t there five minutes before, wondering where you went wrong,” she adds. “You tell yourself, ‘It doesn’t really matter.
Brain Pickings dives into the young love lives of George Orwell, then known as Eric Blair, and Jacintha Buddicom. Jacintha was famously the model for Julia in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and the interactions between Orwell and Buddicom as they age may be just as heartbreaking, ending with a bittersweet reunion just before Orwell’s death....more
On the eve of a new biopic and on the long tail of posthumous publishing and popularization—Christian Lorentzen takes a long, compassionate, critical look at David Foster Wallace and on the ways in which a prolific writer gets written into the public memory—as intellectual behemoth, creative luminary, contemptuous snob, major depressive, motivational speaker:
A writer who courted contradiction and paradox, who could come on as a curmudgeon and a scold, who emerged from an avant-garde tradition and never retreated into conventional realism, he has been reduced to a wisdom-dispensing sage on the one hand and shorthand for the Writer As Tortured Soul on the other.
The house appears to blend in with its landscape, almost disappear beside canopy trees until it’s in danger of becoming an afterthought. There is nothing particularly regal about it. It’s the type of place one of Fitzgerald’s characters would have driven by and forgotten about by the time his motorcar rounded the next bend, or never noticed at all.
It’s strange, how you go from a being person who is away from home to a person with no home at all. The country that is supposed to want you has pushed you out. No other country takes you in. You are unwanted, by everyone.
We here in the US are shitty. Also the rest of the world is shitty. Reading books in translation reminds us of this. The rest of the world is as shitty as we are, only it’s a different kind of shit, and the poets have different approaches to documenting and responding to the shit.
It’s well-known by the literary crowd that authors don’t get to choose the artwork for their book covers. Except when they do, as in the case of Naomi Jackson, author of The Star Side of Bird Hill, who convinced her publisher to use Sheena Rose’s painting “Too Much Makeup” as her cover:
I shrieked with joy when I saw the galleys of The Star Side of Bird Hill earlier this year.
Fear not if you don’t have any vacation plans this summer. Quartz has created a literary playlist of nine contemporary Latin American authors that will utterly transport you....more
(n.); the process of forgetting;
“Curiously enough, one cannot read a book: one can only reread it. When we read a book for the first time, the very process of laboriously moving our eyes from left to right, line after line, page after page, this complicated physical work upon the book, the very process of learning in terms of space and time what the book is about, this stands between us and artistic appreciation.”
–Vladmir Nabokov, from “Good Readers and Good Writers”
This week, Tim Parks takes us on a wonderfully meditative reflection on something we tend, as readers, to take for granted: the physical act of moving one’s eyes across the page, of engaging with words, and—unavoidably—forgetting them....more
The bookends, which cost $88.50 per set, have already sold out (and the two sets that made their way to eBay as of this writing sold for $275 and $300).
Architect Thom Mayne and his wife purchased the house and received a permit to tear it down early this year....more