Apocalyptic literature is nothing new, but it may, according to Grayson Clary, be entering a new era. In Bookforum, he argues that Benjamin Percy’s The Dead Lands ushers the genre into its mannerist phase. Sample quote: “The Dead Lands is really the stripped, buffed skeleton of a road story, set up to show off—attractively—an enormous quantity of decorating tropes.” You could also read our interview with Percy.
“I’ve learned that people—writers and non-writers alike—don’t like that word. Failure…. I take a bizarre pleasure, now, in using that word. Maybe because during my decade as a failed writer, the one thing that took the edge off was wallowing in that failure—carefully, in a proscribed fashion, like having a drink when you’re still hungover.” Stephanie Feldman writes for Vol. 1 Brooklyn about being a literary failure, about the two books she wrote and never published, and about the one she finally did. Pair with the stories of these 5 writers and their failed “novels in drawers.”
Why do Americans read so few translated works? A lot of reasons come to mind, but one is that translated books are often the purview of small publishers, who don’t have the same marketing budgets as the larger companies in the industry. At The New Yorker’s Currency blog, Vauhini Vara looks at the statistics compiled by Three Percent, a database at the University of Rochester that tracks publications of translated works in the country. Related: Oliver Farry’s interview with the Portuguese writer António Lobo Antunes.
Frederick Douglass was one of the first people to use photography to control meaning. Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American catalogues his many portraits and how they contributed to our perception of Douglass. Our own Edan Lepucki writes about the place of slave narratives in fiction.