In an essay on author authenticity for The Millions, Alcy Levy examines Percival Everett’s satirical novel Erasure—about a black author whose own satirical novel is taken seriously—in light of recent literary identity shake-ups such as James Frey and Michael Derrick Hudson, who changed his name to Yi-Fen Chou to get a poem published:
This exposes a major flaw in artistic perception in publishing.
At the Guardian, Marta Bausells interviews Idra Novey about her life as a translator, the notion of vanishing, and the freedom of speaking another language. On writing her novel, Ways to Disappear, Novey recalls:
I wanted to surprise myself and burn down the house of fiction on every page, as much as I could.
At The Millions, Jacob Lambert shares a letter written to an unknown teenager who annotated and “ruined” his secondhand copy of Ragtime. Lambert expresses bewilderment over the passages that the teenager highlighted, and provides his own insights in response:
Chapter three ends with the sentence “And up through the slum alleys, through the gray clothes hanging listlessly on lines strung across air shafts, rose the smell of fried fish.” A highly evocative passage, seemingly straightforward enough.
Gay Talese’s new book The Voyeur’s Motel has garnered some well-earned bad press after its source was discredited. But was it any good? For The New Republic, Alexandra Molotkow argues that to be worth reading, Talese would have had to offer some measure of reflection:
Journalistic ethics are less important than ethics.
We both survived; we both grew up and made lives for ourselves. But I still can’t bear to think about that summer. We could have died so many times.
Over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Briallen Hopper recalls a wild summer spent in her late teens while reviewing Robin Wasserman’s Girls on Fire....more
For The Hairpin, Ella Riley-Adams delves into the phenomenon of the wedding hashtag, and the ways we control and shape the narrative around crucial life milestones....more
Over at Hazlitt, Tobias Carroll writes about the intersection of punk and magic in various fictional works, from The Insides by Jeremy P. Bushnell to the Hellblazer comics and Buffy the Vampire Slayer—a surprisingly varied history of what might, at first, seem like a pairing that just shouldn’t work, but does, deliciously....more
Heads up, Harry Potter fans: the staff over at VICE confirm that J.K. Rowling will be coming out with three more short stories about Hogwarts. The stories will provide background to some of the secondary characters in the Harry Potter series:
Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists centers on Voldemort’s ties with Professor Horace Slughorn at Hogwarts; Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies offers a look into Professor McGonagall’s roots; and Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide provides readers with everything they ever wanted to know about Harry’s prestigious wizarding school.
To memorialize a tragedy, one must inscribe unmistakable significance into reticent materials, attempting to curb the natural processes of forgetting and obsolescence.
For The Nation, Becca Rothfeld writes about W.G. Sebald, author of The Emigrants, among others, and his obsession with artistic expression as the aestheticization of truth, almost necessarily a “mangling,” when the goal is to memorialize or find deeper truth in the wake of tragedy and violence....more
Award-winning author Renée Watson is fighting to save the house that Langston Hughes lived in through much of the 1950s and 60s, until his death in 1967, Heather Long reports for CNN. Watson launched an Indiegogo campaign to rescue the brownstone and preserve its literary history—donate here today to make sure we don’t lose this important piece of American poetry’s past....more
First, in the Saturday Interview, Penny Perkins speaks with Ramona Ausubel about Ausubel’s latest novel, Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty, her previous collections, and “the ways that stories change the real chemistry of the world.”
Then, Jeff Lennon reviews Cynthia Cruz’s “swirling” fourth poetry collection, How The End Begins....more
Ferrante’s novels about women like Lila and Lenu are a potent reminder that working-class women’s perspectives are out there, even if we can’t always hear each other, even if we’re sometimes embarrassed and alone, even if we feel exasperated by a system that valorizes experiences and credentials that we can never claim.
Cemeteries as places of architectural innovation.
Great news everybody! Watching horror movies might burn calories! No need to exercise ever again!
A quick look at the most desirable least accessible places on earth because isn’t that what the internet is for?...more
At the Guardian, Charlotte Jones takes issue with the recently announced Pride and Prejudice sequel fleshing out the life of Mary Bennett—a character whose neglect is central to Austin’s plot:
The singularity of Elizabeth Bennett, after all – the reason she so often features in lists of our favourite literary characters – relies solely upon the relief cast by her dull sisters.