One of the most well-known novels that has spawned its own cult following, Valley of the Dolls immortalized tales of women struggling with marriage, drug addiction, and class and sparked lively discussion across the country. Over at Hazlitt, Manisha Aggarwal-Schifelitte, Amber Katz, Sarah Nicole Prickett, and Kiva Reardon discuss its inspiring and relevant legacy even after fifty years....more
Posts Tagged: Hazlitt
Over at Hazlitt, Alana Massey walks us through the anxiety that so often accompanies reading great thinkers, laying bare her own insecurities at the altar of famed writer and critic, Susan Sontag. When she finally does sit down to read the writer she had so carefully side-stepped, her worst fears are confirmed, and she is confronted—as so many of us will be—with the intense volume of all that she does not know:
But the devastation of learning that one’s work is unoriginal is not nearly as painful as watching the circumference of the gap in one’s knowledge expand outward from a single piece of missing literature to the limitless, insurmountable pile of works yet unread.
At Hazlitt, novelist Orhan Pamuk discusses the influence of food and food vendors on his latest work, the ritual of drinking boza, and the inspiration that the city of Istanbul provides:
I walk in the city all the time. It’s not because of research; it’s a lifestyle.
Over at Hazlitt, Sarah Gerard interviews Matthew Seger, who is currently incarcerated in a maximum security prison, and reveals what it’s like to keep up a writing discipline behind bars:
Before, if I wanted to write something down, I’d scribble it onto some notebook paper and then later transcribe it into a Word document and save it onto a hard drive.
We know some of the things we desire are probably not what we should do. That’s what makes drama interesting.
Anshuman Iddamsetty sat down with Margaret Atwood to talk about her new book, The Heart Goes Last, and the conversation includes but is not limited to: the for-profit prison industrial complex, thirsty men, peeling back layers to expose human excretions, sexual violence, the grand human story, empathy, and baking....more
Fables and fairy tales and folk tales can compel us on their own, but they’re also ripe for reinvention. Some authors may take the skeleton of a centuries-old story and use it as the basis for something new; others may borrow the language or structure in order to apply them to something else entirely.
Colin Dickey writes for Hazlitt about the practice of covering mirrors after a death:
There seems to be no universal reason behind the custom. Reginald Fleming Johnston, documenting this practice in China in 1910, claimed that the reason mirrors are covered is because “if the dead man happens to notice a reflection of himself in the glass he will be much horrified to find that he has become a ghost, and much disappointed with his own appearance as such.” Johnston also notes that for some, there is a belief that “every mirror has a mysterious faculty of invisibly retaining and storing up everything that is reflected on its surface, and that if anything so ill-omened as a corpse or a ghost were to pass before it, the mirror would thenceforth become a permanent radiator of bad luck.”
Her genre-defying fiction, from the mail-art chapbook The Childlike Life of the Black Tarantula to incendiary novels like Blood and Guts in High Schooland Empire of the Senseless, were ways to think against every repression, to overturn the worlds—and words—of parents, gender, the academy, rationality, the traditional novel.
Over at Hazlitt, Sarah Galo and Elon Green have cornered a handful of authors, from Renata Adler to Celeste Ng, into admitting their literary gaps, from Finnegans Wake to To Kill a Mockingbird. Something we should keep in mind is that there is more work produced every day than a single person can get to in their lifetime; it’s harder now than it was for Milton—let that soothe you when you feel a pang for having never got to Don Quixote....more
Type is the same, instance after instance, and the font you choose today will look the same when you type in it again tomorrow. The same is not true for crafting prose or poetry by hand, each looping connection between letters mapping out the inherently linear, temporal nature of language: the fact that for it to “work,” you must always be in the tumbling forward of reading.
I’m like an alien in a human body. I come from a different place, a different plane of existence. I can’t explain that other place because I don’t know it in this lifetime, I don’t have memories of it, but I know it is a softer place.
In an interview with Tobias Carroll for Hazlitt magazine, Mat Johnson talks about writing, humor, and fantasy:
But writing in general sometimes is like a dream. You might recognize things from your life and there are pieces of yourself in there, but everything is twisted around and different.
(n.); the last thing, as a theological reference to the climax of history at Judgment Day; the day at the end of time following Armageddon when God will decree the fates of all human beings; from the ancient Greek eskhatos (“end”)
“My mind moves toward apocalypse fictions the way we think about a forgotten friend, or a partner that’s left us—grief becomes its own comfort.”
–Adnan Khan, “Finding a Home in the Apocalypse”
The past decade has seen a fantastic resurgence of the apocalypse—thankfully, only of the fictional variety....more
Perhaps I never was a brave person, but I know that I was bolstered by the fact that if something didn’t bother my mom, I didn’t need to be bothered by it either. Now, our anxieties have bubbled up at the same time, like she’s finally realized that she can’t protect me and it’s time for me to be worried for myself too.
I’m a Proustian in that sense, I believe in memories outside of consciousness, and this is just a way to find them. Writing is a way to get access to them. The thing you feel if you smell something, or hear something, if you hear music from the ’80s, and then you are back there with your whole body for maybe ten seconds, and it is very good.
Meander to Hazlitt for Linda Besner’s recent reading of Alfred Hermida’s Tell Everyone: Why We Share and Why it Matters. Besner’s critique is particularly concerned with the role of anonymity in a new, social-media-dominated landscape:
Social media, in other words, is a gift economy, in which we share information both in the expectation that others will share important information with us and in the hopes of increasing our social capital .
Comparing cognitive tests like the Duncker Candle Problem against views of racial essentialism reveals that racists lack certain problem solving skills, reports Hazlitt:
Creativity is fundamentally the ability to recombine old ideas, moving beyond preexisting categories in order to create things that are genuinely novel.
While the unpaid internship is finally facing scrutiny from courts and government commissions, simply eliminating those positions doesn’t solve the problem of privilege. Further, reliance on a privileged class threatens both the publishing industry and society as a whole:
Media organizations, like all organizations and especially prestige ones, are rife with pernicious attitudes and biases that go undetected by those who hold them.
The Violet Flowers Motel is located in Brantford, Ontario, and is considered by some to be home to drug dealing and prostitution; to others, the motel is the site of violent murders; some think it a nice place, just off the highway, to get a night’s rest....more