Posts Tagged: Elif Batuman
That night, I found myself seriously questioning this assumption I’d held since childhood: “You have to try to forget that while you’re reading.” You do? Why? And, more to the point, how?
How do you approach literature when you find it racist or elitist?...more
Make your way to The New Yorker, where Elif Batuman makes an inquiry into what has become a dominant American disposition: awkwardness. “Awkwardness,” Batuman argues, “is the consciousness of a false position.”
Here is the top-rated definition of awkward in Urban Dictionary: “Passing a homeless person on your way to a Coin Star machine.” In other words, denying that you have any spare change while carrying a whole jar of change, a transparent column of money, right in front of the person.
You’d think an essay about Franco Moretti, morphology, and the diminution of classic novels to “five tiny dots in the graph of Figure 2” would be academic and sawdust-dry.
Not in the hands of Elif Batuman, who brings her wry humor and quiet appreciation of human absurdity to just such an essay in n + 1 without sacrificing any of the necessary intellectual rigor....more
Elif Batuman’s book The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them combines memoir, literary criticism, and non-fiction reporting...more
“The number of books I buy while sober is, I have noticed, inversely proportional to the number I buy while drunk. It’s a zero-sum game, as Proust once observed of wet dreams: when all the resources are consumed in the night, none are left for waking life.”...more
(Which includes me.)
“The workshop’s most famous mantras – ‘Murder your darlings,’ ‘Omit needless words,’ ‘Show, don’t tell’ – also betray a view of writing as self-indulgence, an excess to be painfully curbed in AA-type group sessions.
Shame also explains the fetish of ‘craft’: an ostensibly legitimising technique, designed to recast writing as a workmanlike, perhaps even working-class skill, as opposed to something every no-good dilettante already knows how to do....more
This week in New York Bill Gates talks with his dad, the Joan Rivers documentary screens, Christopher Hitchens talks about his new memoir, Isabella Rossellini talks to Leonard Lopate, KGB Bar holds a Fiction/Poetry slam, and Crispin Glover gives a unique slideshow presentation and screening....more
Elif Batuman offers a rogue’s gallery of Russian writers, scholars, and literary characters—the only oddball missing is herself....more
This week in New York Keith Gessen and Elif Batuman talk, Guernica has a reading, Joanna Newsom sings and plays harp, Marcel Dzama appears, talks and signs books, The Moth has a Story Slam, Christopher Walken loses a hand and Zoe Kazan gives him one, and Atlas Obscura presents an international celebration of curious and obscure things....more