This week at Recommended Reading, PEN America offers an excerpt from Brazilian author Noemi Jaffe’s novel Írisz: as orquídeas, which is remarkable for many reasons, one of them being that this is so far the only opportunity to read part of the Portuguese-language novel in English translation....more
Posts Tagged: Electric Literature
Released this May, director Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s 1975 sci-fi novel High-Rise converts the dystopian work into a tableau of striking visuals made all the more seductive by the presence of elegant Internet boyfriend du jour Tom Hiddleston. At Electric Literature, Michael Betancourt analyzes the contrasting versions of masculinity presented in the book and the film:
If the appeal of the high-rise in Ballard’s novel lay in the fact that it “was an environment built not for man, but for man’s absence,” Wheatley’s adaptation dismantles the sexist humanist language at work in the author’s rhetoric.
With Father’s Day just around the corner, we’re tasked with remembering all the good things about our fathers, which can be difficult. What might help? Remembering just how bad other fathers can be. Electric Literature has a list of terrible fathers in literature that might help you appreciate your own more....more
At Electric Literature, Nick Politan reports on a new study that suggests that reading in childhood has a link to financial success in adulthood. Politan, however, is critical of the study, which he argues reduces books to their “capitalist value”:
Can “books” not be something(s) — at least for a reader — positively stripped of their economic jackets?
Over at Publishing Perspectives, Andy Hunter, Publisher & COO of Catapult, Publisher of Literary Hub, and Co-Founding Chairman of Electric Literature, explains the different approaches but shared mission of his three ventures:
There’s a common mission between them: to bring attention to, and advocate for, literary writing.
When the mainstream doesn’t carve out space for their work, writers must take the situation to their own hands, creating their own platforms, even their own communities of dedicated readers. Over at Electric Literature, Adrian L. Jawort discusses the process of compiling two anthologies of contemporary Native American and Indigenous writing:
The anthologies are about how we view the world as we know it and share it to other indigenous peoples through the lens of our own creative control; not what perhaps some so-called Big Five New York publisher or outside editor assumes the Native experience should read like because maybe they’ve previously read Louise Erdrich, other Alexie works, or an aforementioned Native American Renaissance-era book from decades ago and deduced that Native American literature representation had already been fulfilled.
Who hasn’t felt that awkward moment between laughing and crying when the question, “do writers make money?” pops up? Unlike movie-makers and musicians, exact figures for authors’ earnings have always been notoriously difficult to retrieve. However, with the advent of Amazon’s publishing arm, interesting figures determining just how much authors can make from self-publishing versus traditional publishing arise....more
Electric Literature asked four writers to sit down and discuss Lian Hearn’s epic series The Tale of Shikanoko, a work of “historical fantasy” that “defies all easy description or easy understanding.” Here’s what author Kelly Luce had to say about the work:
The world of the Shikanoko books is so richly imagined.
At Electric Literature, Amber Sparks writes about the short story as the critically darling but commercially nonviable art form it is—and how we need to stop telling short story writers to write novels....more
For Electric Literature, Tabitha Blankenbiller offers a critique of the recent New York Times article about “Man Book Clubs,” and analyzes how gendered book covers influence readers’ choices and experience:
We can debate the levels of hubris and/or drunkenness in the NYT editorial room all we want, but what we have is an article claiming real estate and resources in The New York Times’ Books section.
Sometimes, you get lost. In art, in love, in fantasies-turned-dreams, in your five billion part-time jobs. Sophia Foster-Dimino combines daily minutia with drifting existential questions in her comic, “My Girl.”
Read “My Girl” over at Electric Literature, and feel it right in your secretly lonely guts (in a good, comforting way)....more
For Electric Literature, Tobias Carroll chats with Matthew Neill Null about the role of landscapes in his story collection Allegheny Front, and how Null crafted the “ideal juxtaposition of humanity and the natural world”:
Many of the stories pivot on fraught interactions between humans and animals.
We’ve heard the arguments (and read American Psycho) about how success in the business world is often linked with psychopathic traits, but surely the same couldn’t be said about success in creative fields like writing? New research suggests that strong track records of writing success may be correlated with certain psychopathic traits....more
For Electric Literature, Dan Sheehan interviews novelist Mark Haddon about his recent short story collection The Pier Falls. The two also discuss why Haddon writes about family and domestic spaces:
When I began writing fiction I wanted to write big novels about big subjects and learned, painfully and slowly, that I had other, smaller subjects where I was at home, subjects that suited me.
We’re used to Amazon producing recommendations alongside books we buy, but are we prepared for a world where computerized data also picks what gets published? Inkitt, an electronic publishing platform, has announced that they will be utilizing algorithms to pick novels to publish in the interest of “fairness and objectivity” that can’t be found in this world of “literary gatekeepers.”...more
For Electric Literature, Melody Nixon interviews Ruth Ozeki about what it means to write “embodied prose”:
I find that whether I’m writing fiction or memoirish essay, whatever you want to call it, the key to any kind of literary writing is being able to tap the body’s memory: to enter the writing through the senses, and through the body.
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.
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.
At Electric Literature, Mensah Demary argues that there should be greater appreciation of hip-hop as a powerful storytelling medium, positing Nas as a master of literary narrative:
If presented with a choice, I’d rather discuss classic hip-hop albums than short story collections: the former evokes warmth, my need to consecrate my life to a certain fidelity and pure aural bliss channeled into nighttime sessions in the bedroom, lights off, completely enveloped by sound, while the latter invokes the image of a bottomless pit.
I know of no level of success where writers stop getting rejected (and stop at least occasionally feeling bummed about it). People generally make more noise about publications than rejections, the same way people mostly share pictures of happy moments on Facebook, making their sad moments invisible.
Digital media companies are suddenly worried about declining ad revenue, and the venture capitalists funding these companies have also turned off the faucet of cash as they realize that success stories like BuzzFeed and Mashable are not the unicorns everyone thought they were....more
For Electric Literature, Anya Groner discusses the role of space tourism in modern science fiction, and explores how the focus of space exploration narratives have shifted from the technological aspects of interplanetary life to the anxieties and psychological challenges faced by space travelers:
Practical questions give way to unsettling existentialism and thrilling narrative possibilities.
Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading has put out its 200th issue, and to celebrate, they’re watching television. Or, thinking about watching television by revisiting the 200th episodes of classic sitcoms: J. Robert Lennon on The Cosby Show, Rob McCleary on The Love Boat, Morgan Parker on The Jeffersons, and Téa Obreht on Frasier....more