What are those crazy kids from Vampire Weekend saying in their new single, “Cousins”? It’s a little disappointing, as the beleaguered translators of lyrics at We Listen For You reveal.
The British critic, essayist, and novelist John Berger died yesterday at his home in France, reports The New York Times. Probably best known for his book of art-criticism-as-philosophy Ways of Seeing, which was turned into a popular BBC series and sold more than a million copies, Berger also won the Booker prize for G. in 1972 and was nominated again in 2008 for an epistolary novel, From A to X. The Guardian has rounded up some of his quotes, including the apt-feeling "[h]ope is not a form of guarantee; it’s a form of energy, and very frequently that energy is strongest in circumstances that are very dark.”
In the Winter 2013 issue of The Paris Review, Kevin Prufer published a poem, “How He Loved Them,” that tackled the aftermath of a car bomb explosion outside of a courthouse. On the magazine’s blog, Robyn Creswell interviews Prufer, who laments that "somehow, when we enter the territory of politics, we expect our poems to shill for votes, to argue strongly for particular beliefs." (He also has a new book out.)
New this week: The Best of McSweeney’s; a new e-book edition of Highway Trade by John Domini; and new paperback editions of Between Heaven and Here by Susan Straight and Samuel Johnson is Indignant by Lydia Davis. (You could also read Susan Straight’s Millions essay on Toni Morrison's Sula.)
This Sunday, come out to the KGB Bar and meet The Millions! A pile of staffers including C. Max Magee, Garth Risk Hallberg, Emily St. John Mandel, Sonya Chung, and yours truly will be there, and a good number of them will be reading their work. The event even ends by nine, so you can rush home to see Mad Men.
If your default mood hovers between melancholy and despair, you may be cheered (or at least made a bit less glum) by this argument that striving for happiness is bad for us in the long run. Mari Ruti makes the case that a “happy, balanced life” depends in large part on a kind of emotional numbness.