Charles Bock (Beautiful Children), in a recent interview, sounding perturbed: “Where are you right now? I’m in a writer’s room in Manhattan. There’s all these other people with their fucking computers doing their stupid little bullshit. It feels pointless. You wanna feel like it matters. It’s hard to do that when you’re in a room like this. At least it’s quiet.”
Our own Emily Mandel may have been onto something with her "catastrophic" summer reading list; dystopia seems to be all the rage this summer. The WSJ sets Rick Moody's The Four Fingers of Death in "a dystopian United States that is halfway between Kurt Vonnegut's Player Piano and Woody Allen's Sleeper." The SF Chron calls Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story "literature's first dystopian epistolary romantic satire." And later this year, as we noted this month, will be Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez, which focuses on a cultish community in the dystopian aftermath of a flu pandemic.
Have you ever wondered how Kafka’s The Trial would translate in music? Philip Glass adapted the novel, and more, to music. Read about other music inspired by literature at Ploughshares. For more on music and literature, check out our Torch Ballads and Jukebox Music column.
The University of Iowa’s International Writing House is offering a free 7-week virtual poetry seminar this February. The course will be taught be poet Margaret Ross, and it is open to anyone with an internet connection. Attendance will be capped at 15, however, and the deadline for applications is January 28th. More details can be found here.
One of the best parts of last month's Cullman Center discussion between John Jeremiah Sullivan and Wells Tower was watching JJS carry on the conversation while sipping from a highball glass of whiskey. The essayist's Southern roots and Irish ancestry of course make him no stranger to potent potables, which is why Danny Nowell's "John Jeremiah Sullivan" cocktail is so appropriate.
Accusations of plagiarism – the real kind, which is not to be confused with "self-plagiarism" – just keep following Turkish writer Elif Şafak, don’t they? Lydia Kiesling previously reported on the fiasco around her book Iskender last August, but now more allegations are surrounding the cover art on Şafak’s latest novel, Şemspare.