Posts Tagged: new yorker

The Post-Wounded Woman

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Leslie Jamison‘s The Empathy Exams coins the phrase “Post-Wounded Woman,” referring to women who “are wary of melodrama so they stay numb or clever instead. Post-wounded women make jokes about being wounded or get impatient with women who hurt too much.” Catherine Lacey‘s debut novel Nobody Is Ever Missing embodies this ideal, writes Daphne Merkin at the New Yorker.

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Thinking About Tweeting About Working on My Novel

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Artist Cory Arcangel recently curated a collection of tweets containing the phrase “working on my novel” to produce a book of the same name. The New Yorker’s Mark O’Connell wonders whywhy he did it, why they tweeted it, and why it matters to us:

…it’s hard to imagine a book providing a more solid pretext for discussions of social media and creativity, or the death of the novel, or any number of other means by which the think-piecing superego might impose itself on the culture.

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From the Limousine, the King of Funk

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We want the intent. Whatever happened basically to the ethnic man, it happened through trials and tribulations. There’s no intent to make them better. Martin Luther King—and Black Panthers organized to start riots. SNCC—the hate groups, whether it was the Panthers or whether it was the Klansmen, or whether it was they called the self-defense to come down and save our daughters here—the Panthers trying to get aboard.

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What’s So Great about Relatability?

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In the wake of a tweet by Ira Glass that called Shakespeare’s plays unrelatableRebecca Mead explores why we care so much about whether we can relate to a play, story or work of art. She admits there’s nothing new about people wanting to see themselves reflected in art, but is still bothered by this recent insistence on relatability:

To appreciate “King Lear”—or even “The Catcher in the Rye” or “The Fault in Our Stars”—only to the extent that the work functions as one’s mirror would make for a hopelessly reductive experience.

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What Twitter Could Mean for Fiction

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Following the publication of David Mitchell’s short story “The Right Sort” on Twitter last week, Ian Crouch considers the possibilities and limitations of the medium for fiction. He admires some of Mitchell’s tweets, wonders if the story isn’t actually better read all at once, and suggests “The Great American Twitter Novel” could potentially exist:

I like to think that there is another kind of fiction to be written, the truest expression of the form, which embraces the quotidian nature of Twitter and its movements in real time.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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Let’s dedicate this week to the publications, editors, and benevolent marketing gurus who unleashed a whole bunch of quality FREE short fiction to us. Under the shadow of the FCC’s impending decision as to whether or not net neutrality will continue, these all-you-can-read buffets taste even sweeter.

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Gateway Literature

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Over at the New Yorker, Stephen Burt reviews Ariel Schrag’s Adam, a graphic novel about a straight man who finds himself in the midst of New York’s queer scene. Almost as interesting as the novel’s contents is its publicity: where trans characters were once cast as charity cases, psychopaths, anything but simply human, now Adam is being marketed as mainstream literary fiction:

…it tries not to lose readers unfamiliar with the complicated labels and the sometimes surprising bodies of the gender-variant people Adam meets: he’s learning about them, and from them, and (the novel assumes) so are we.

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Rent-a-Man

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Find here at the New Yorker a short history of Ted Peckham, an entrepreneur in the first half of the last century known for his male escort service, indicted for the possibilities it opened up.

The escort “would have to remain the perfect cavalier, attractive, entertaining, and ingratiating throughout an entire evening, even if he didn’t like the woman who had hired him.” In other words, his men would have to practice the same tiring arts of flattery and fakery that women had perfected over centuries of boring dates on the arms of wealthy men.

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The Funny Side of Writing

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Over at the New Yorker, read an excerpt from Mike Sacks’s upcoming Poking a Dead Frog: Conversations with Today’s Top Comedy Writers. The selection features an interview with George Saunders, in which the writer talks about his upbringing, getting inspiration for characters from working in a restaurant, Mark Twain, comedy, and humor versus satire.

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Harvey’s Heartache

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Stephen King doesn’t always write horror-less contemporary fiction, but when he does, there’s usually still a twist. Over at the New Yorker, “Harvey’s Dream” has been resurrected from the archives:

Then one day you made the mistake of looking over your shoulder and discovered that the girls were grown and that the man you had struggled to stay married to was sitting with his legs apart, his fish-white legs, staring into a bar of sun, and by God maybe he looked fifty-four in either of his best suits, but sitting there at the kitchen table like that he looked seventy.

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Interrogating Adrian

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Over at Granta, Francisco Vilhena interviews Adrian Tomine, the artist and illustrator responsible for bringing us Shortcomings, Summer Blonde, and any number of illustrations for the New Yorker. Tomine riffs on the origins of his stories, landing a job in pre-9/11, and the dynamics of imperfection:

I’ve heard people mention – and sometimes criticize – this unresolved quality in my stories.

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A Book Voyage with No Guide

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As the number of Americans who read books has declined, those who do read have begun wearing t-shirts, carrying tote bags, and sticking magnets on their fridges declaring their love of reading. Some book lovers even perform “book stunts,” reading through the encyclopedia or the dictionary over the course of a year.

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This Week in Short Fiction

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In this, the first week of June, a band of storytellers joined hands and exhaled sweet stories that rolled out like a giant park full of empty hammocks waiting to hold readers through the long summer days…

For example: On Tuesday, poet-storyteller Stuart Dybek released not one, but two short story collections: Ecstatic Cahoots: Fifty Stories (a compendium of flash fiction) and Paper Lantern: Love Stories (home to nine longer stories).

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Saul Bellows Revived

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Saul Bellow’s 1978 story “A Silver Dish has been has been re-released over at the New Yorker. The piece follows Woody Seblst, a successful businessman, before abandoning its conventional plot structure entirely; Bellow’s prose seeps into the Great Depression, the rise of gateway psychedelics, and Woody’s bleeding relationship with a “dying and picturesque father”:

There were Woody’s two sisters as well, unmarried, in their fifties, very Christian, very straight, still living with Mama in an entirely Christian bungalow.

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Resurrecting a Monster

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Forty-one years after his death, JRR Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf has been published by his son Christopher. Tolkien translated Beowulf early in his career, yet never published it. In the New Yorker, Joan Acocella speculates on the reason:

Another possible explanation for Tolkien’s putting “Beowulf” aside—a theory that has been advanced in the case of many unpublished manuscripts—is that the work was so important to him that if he finished it his life, or the life of his mind, would be over.

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Some Inheritance

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Ian Parker profiles Edward St. Aubyn in this week’s issue of the New Yorker, delving into the “family disaster” that shaped much of the writer’s fiction:

… [he] recalled some of his life’s most fraught experiences with steady irony, and in an unhurried English privilege that—like the paintings that hang in his drawing room, and the tone of amused contempt that sometimes marks his prose—is part of his inheritance from a father who tortured him.

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Where It All Began

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After Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s passing last Thursday, the New Yorker opened its archives to those compelled to get their hands on something from the “voice of Latin America.” One of the more interesting pieces in the archive is “The Challenge,” in which Marquez recalls a forty-two day span during which his first two short stories were published.

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The Works Behind the Work

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Over at the New Yorker, Meg Wolitzer writes about the cultural influences that helped inform her novel The InterestingsThey include Archie comics, folk music, and Michael Apted’s “Up” films”:

A good chunk of what you need to know about the characters in the “Up” films is right there in their childhoods, and I suppose that’s true in many novels, too; and yet you often still need life to just continue to unspool like an old Bell and Howell projector gone amok in order to get the whole story.

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