Four days ago, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest turned twenty; if you had been reading a page a day since it came out, by now you could have read it over 6.5 times. Despite its age and length, the novel still enjoys massive cultural relevance....more
When you think of romance, you probably think Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice, Gone With the Wind, Wuthering Heights—or anything by Nicholas Sparks if you’re into more modern fare. These famous love stories, spread across centuries, have one thing in common: they’re all about heterosexual couples....more
The New York Times Magazine profiles editor Chris Jackson and how he’s building a literary movement for writers of color:
‘‘The great tradition of black art, generally,’’ he started again, ‘‘is the ability—unlike American art in general—to tell the truth. Because it was formed around the great American poison, the thing that poisoned American consciousness and behavior: racism.
Friday 2/5: Women & Children First welcomes poets Loma, Fatimah Asghar, Richie Hofmann, and Erika L. Sánchez on their Tour to End Queer Youth Homelessness. 7:30 p.m....more
“‘We have to leave the country,’ I informed my wife as I went over the final proofs. ‘We won’t be able to stay here after this book is published.'”
NPR looks at the satirical novel/memoir Native by Sayed Kashua and explores how Kashua transverses the two different worlds that make up Jerusalem....more
Rare books are harder to find than many amateur collectors think, and its more probable that buying old books leads to hoarding rather than a big payday. Its highly unlikely, for instance, for a library to accidentally sell off an expensive treasure, since most institutions check books against databases before selling off their stock....more
Slate is on the case, looking at why so many book trailers are self-loathing:
Behold Jonathan Franzen, opening his book trailer for Freedom with the words: “This might be a good place for me to register my profound discomfort at having to make videos like this.” Behold Slate editor Gabriel Roth, who transformed the trailer for his novel The Unknowns into a comment on the existential futility of book trailers.
Where do our words go when we lose them? Jenny Diski embarks on an exploration into vanishing vocabulary:
So I had a thought about writing a book for the elderly, the old. Those who have lost their words more comprehensively than the friends around our lunch table, but haven’t lost themselves entirely.
Thursday 2/4: Tell It Slant and Late Night Library present a night of the Strange and Fantastic, featuring magical realism readings by Anna Doogan, Marjorie Sandor, and visiting author Kelly Luce. Alberta Street Pub, 7 p.m., free.
Portland’s new literary journal The Timberline Review celebrates its latest edition release party with a reading, including some of this issue’s contributors Kim Stafford, Jeanne Krinsley, Gina Ochsner, Jack Estes, Wayne Scott, Jennifer Dorner, and Julie Young....more
Swift sweeping clusters of revelation! Plunging into pockets of the earth’s belly, and
Shooting up into the blue and white woven infinity of the sky!
Walt Whitman, author of Leaves of Grass and Song of Myself, is famous for his exuberant and sensuous poetry about life itself, but what about life on a rollercoaster?...more
Sarah Galo interviewed Molly Crabapple for Guernica. They talked about race, violence, innocence, and narrative voice:
Lately, I haven’t been putting myself into my work that much, because I’ve just found the stories of the people I’m talking to much more interesting than my reactions to them.
As much as we cherish the books from our childhood, there is no denying that some of the stories are just a little (or a lot) racist. But how do we reconcile this truth?
They were the feckless prisoners of their times, and much as we’d like for people in the past to share our enlightenment, especially people we otherwise admire, it’s just not going to happen in an unfortunate number of cases.
For The Millions, Austin Ratner documents the relationship between the “forgotten” Irish writer James Stephens and the famed James Joyce. Despite starting as literary rivals, Joyce wanted Stephens to finish Finnegans Wake if he ever lost his eyesight. In addition, the essay examines Stephens’s influence on other well-known Irish writers, including Seán O’Casey and Eugene O’Neill....more
Brutalist architecture—those hulking, concrete buildings from the mid-1950s to mid-1970s—is making a quiet comeback in popularity. A new book by Christopher Beanland, Concrete Concept explores why:
And the sheer variety of these “brutalist beasts,” in cities from Birmingham to Madrid to Montreal, is extraordinary.
When two fans tweeted Florence Welch (of the indie rock band Florence + the Machine) about starting a book club, they never imagined she’d say yes. The Guardian explains the story behind the fan-inspired book club, Between Two Books. “It’s all very fluid and organic collaboration,” said Leah Moloney, one of the book club’s founders....more
We have a new Monthly Book Report coming out on Friday! 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
A survey by book publisher Lee & Low showed that 78 percent of the publishing workforce is composed of straight white women, causing headlines about how women run publishing. But that’s not the whole story:
Yet these attention grabbers glazed over one of the more subtle aspects of the data, which shows that while the industry employs far more women overall, the difference is smaller at the executive level, with “approximately 40% of executives and board members identifying as men or cis-men.” As the compilers of the DBS report note: “This reflects the reality that males still ascend to positions of power more oven, even in female-dominated industries.”
Wednesday 2/3: Passages On The Lake presents its 21st edition with Joe Loya, Brenda Usher-Carpino, Terry Taplin, Kelechi Ubozoh, and Nick Johnson, plus musician Lake Lady. Free, 7 p.m., The Terrace Room.
You can encounter novelist Joyce Carol Oates in an intimate setting when she reads from her new novel, The Man Without a Shadow, at Mrs....more
Things in my own life that make me want to write about them are often things that are unresolved. And I use writing to figure them out.
Memoirists Meredith Maran, Dani Shapiro, Ayelet Waldman, Kate Christensen, and Nick Flynn speak in a YouTube video about why they write about their own lives, and the best/worst things that happened to them as a result of writing a memoir....more
Not all libraries are free and open to the public, and for much of modern history, private subscription libraries with paying patrons were the norm. While most libraries in the United States are now public institutions, a few specialty subscription libraries remain....more
I was a kid. In many ways, I’m still a kid, trapped in the extended adolescence of the post-irony, post-sincerity millennial era; I came of age in America under the Bush Administration, a world where words, masquerading as truths, became tools for war.
Seattle plans on paying a writer $10,000 for a residency in the Fremont Bridge. The bridge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is the most frequently opened drawbridge in the US. The recipient of the fellowship will have use of a room in the bridge’s tower, without running water or heat (it cannot be a permanent residence)....more
Unplugging is bound to free up some time; spending that time is another matter. After reading Mindful Tech, David M. Levy’s book about how and why we use devices, Matthew J.X. Malady decided to give the simple life a try:
I ran to the store for things we didn’t really need, and watered plants that I previously hadn’t noticed existed.