By the time you’re reading this, I’m in Mexico, prepping for this awesome thing. Depending on my internet connection, this could be my last Round-up until after July 16, when I return to Chicago…but most likely, I’ll be checking in from there.
The author Jacqueline St. Joan is nearly at her goal of raising money for a shelter for women and girls escaping abuse in Pakistan. This is an exceptional project, please check it out.
10 Literary Restaurants for book geeks around the world.
Susan Sontag on Simone Weil.
Guernica’s Race in America issue.
Sunday Rumpus alum and international yogi Jennifer Pastiloff’s, “Don’t Miss the Roses,” inspired by her friend and reader, Rose Alma, who died of cystic fibrosis last week.
16 fantastic pics of women writers at work.
The NYTimes continues the sudden zeitgeist of scientific obsession with female desire…and by “sudden” I mean “cycling around again since…always.”
Speaking of that always: a build-your-own “So You’ve Been Accused of Witchcraft” adventure.
So I’ve been interested in having someone do a piece for The Sunday Rumpus on “grief memoirs,” such as Karen Green’s Bough Down, Emily Rapp’s The Still Point of the Turning World, Sarah Manguso’s The Guardians, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, Claire Bidwell Smith’s The Inheritance of Loss…it seems to me to be the most dramatically emerging forms in nonfiction, and Green’s, Rapp’s, Manguso’s all strain against general linear narrative form to greater or lesser degrees, sometimes achieving a kind of hybrid genre between philosophy-creative nonfiction (Rapp) or poetry-art-narrative (Green)…I’ve never been much of a memoir-girl, yet I’ve these books formative and compelling over the past year and a half or so and am looking for a taker to write the piece, mainly because I’d like to read it but have no freaking time to write it…and yet maybe I will have to write it myself eventually since the ideas and books I’m batting around are not necessarily applicable to another writer’s direction.
I just finished Bough Down. I underlined stunning, kick-you-in-the-mouth lines on every page. Broken down into bare parts, it’s a beautiful and harrowing book. Ensemble, I wasn’t sure why so much artwork was included, when in reality the replicas on the page are so small that they’re more about looking pretty-in-print than being able to fall into them and experience them as real pieces, and so despite a few stunner lines culled from the ones that incorporate text (most do, actually), they seemed to take up a lot of space, making a book out of what could have been a long-form avant-garde/poetic essay. Green’s style seems heavily influenced by the experimental writers of the 70s, and her work evokes a range of grieving, angry women from Acker to Cixous, but with immense tenderness (“I am awake all night, remembering the shade of his nipples.”) One of the problems with the media coverage of this book is that everyone wants to talk about DFW instead of Green’s book. One of the problems with Green’s book is that if you don’t know the story of DFW, the text holds together less resonantly and cohesively, because it doesn’t aim to be accessible: it’s too immediate and cathartic and intimate and wild, ultimately, to concern itself with “telling a story,” which is both its strength and its drawback. But putting all that aside: you do know the story, so Green doesn’t need to hold your hand, and this is another side to that oft-glamorized story of the self-destructive artist–the side that belongs to the living, to those who, as Faulkner wrote, are “doomed to live,” which for the moment includes all of Us. And what it means to choose continued existence in the face of profound grief brought about by someone else’s exit strategy is worth daring to engage with. “Some people would rather die than be understood,” Green writes, but not without deep empathy. “Of course you had to get away and of course my arms were easy to empty.”
I also reread Catherine Texier’s Breakup this week. It’s as narcissistic and repetitive as I remembered it–and to boot it made me much sadder at almost-45 than it did at 30, and left me sick to my stomach with a cloud over my mood all day once I’d closed it. It’s also one of the most honest, obsessive, sexy things I’ve read in a long time and I fucking loved it.