At My Life and Thoughts, Elif Batuman–in delightfully Elifish style–describes her first book travails and unveils a preliminary sketch for the cover of her forthcoming first book The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.
"After ten years of painting, that is to say ten years of using an abstract, invented language, writing stories was the closest I had come to working in the realm of 'realism.' It was the most direct I had ever been in my art. Perhaps the most direct I had ever been. But, as I learned from the comments of my peers in workshop ('this isn’t a story,' 'this is poetry,' 'what is this'), my writing was something other than what we referred to as literary realism. By which I mean, the writing many have come to believe most accurately represents life." Susan Steinberg asks what happened to American experimental writing.
Miranda July's new project, It Chooses You, is a store based on her new book (published by McSweeney’s) of the same name. The store, at Partner’s and Spade in SoHo, is an exercise in buying belongings from New York-area Craigslist sellers and reselling the contents for the exact same price.
"It only took me 10 years to get the verb tenses right!" Our own Garth Risk Hallberg reflects on the process of updating his debut novella, A Field Guide to the North American Family, recently reissued in a new edition by Knopf. See also: our interview with him on the occasion of the release of his blockbuster City on Fire.
"She was furious about the way the female college students of the next generation had been programmed to regard getting an MRS. degree as the be-all and end-all of their experience in higher education. She was enraged by the way the psychiatric profession regarded housewives’ unhappiness as a symptom of an out-of-whack libido. She was angry at the way the economy appeared to see her entire sex as simple consumption machines who built national prosperity by buying new appliances for the kitchen and searching madly for the perfect laundry detergent." Betty Friedan's second wave classic The Feminine Mystique turns fifty.
On July 8th 1618, Ben Jonson set out walking from London. Over the next few months, he traveled 400 miles on foot until he reached Edinburgh on September 5th. To commemorate the epic voyage, a team of researchers is re-enacting the walk online by updating a dedicated blog, Twitter page, and Facebook profile with a series of posts corresponding to dates, locations and occurrences Jonson experienced along the way. All this sounds grand enough, but I’ll be really impressed when somebody truly re-enacts Jonson’s mock-epic poem about paddling London’s disgusting Fleet Ditch: “On The Famous Voyage.”