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It Was a Joke

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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.

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Ragtime and the Mysterious Teenage Highlighter

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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.

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Just Kidding

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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.

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To Speak Unsatisfactorily

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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.

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Save Langston Hughes’s Harlem Home

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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.

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Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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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.

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Keep Minor Characters Minor

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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.

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