An interview with the author David Bajo, on his new novel Panopticon: “I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of privacy, especially how our society constantly seeks ways to invade it technologically, how we consistently undermine it by happily participating in digital omniscience, yet how we are outraged by the pain that technology and that desire sometimes cause.”
"How can you write a complete story without a conventional plot? We often hear that in short stories, the main character must change. But in some stories, including some by Grace Paley, the characters don’t change. Instead, her stories change the reader. You’re different by the time you reach the end." We've told you about The Atlantic's "By Heart" series plenty of times before. This week, it's Alice Mattison, who touches on everything from character development to the strange stories of Grace Paley.
Ninth Letter recently launched "Only Silence Will Never Betray You," a mini-anthology of contemporary Bulgarian writers. Editor-at-Large Philip Graham introduces the five writers: Ivayla Alexandrova, Bistra Andreeva, Nikolai Grozni, Georgi Gospodinov, and Marin Bodakov. From our archives: our 2013 interview with Grozni.
"An easel stood just inside the big glass doorway when I entered the store. On it leaned my author photo, the one from the back cover of Domestic Violets, and it was fucking enormous. It was the size of a photo you’d expect to see if Bono had been appearing at Barnes & Noble, Bill Clinton maybe, or perhaps the Reverend Desmund Tutu. For a full 30 seconds I stood there and looked at the gigantic, painstakingly airbrushed picture of myself. An elderly couple walked in and did a double take when they saw a stunned-looking me looking at me. 'It’s too big,' I told them." This is what you do when no one shows up to your reading.
Catch it while you can: Charlie Rose's hour-long interview with Pedro Almodóvar and his muse, Penélope Cruz, touches on character, confidence, and control, and is currently available online. Almodóvar's latest film, Broken Embraces, which I saw last summer in Madrid sans subtitles, was so visually stunning and well-acted that despite my meager translation the film enthralled. With a proper translation, it should be ravishing.
Cairo bookstore Bab Aldonia has installed a soundproof room for its customers in which, MobyLives reports, "anyone can go and scream in privacy for ten minutes at a time." An unsigned piece on the online magazine Cairoscene notes that working out one's frustrations within the safety of its walls "may prove just as effective as regime change." The stakes are considerably lower, but if you're a fan of indie booksellers, you'll also enjoy our piece about bookstores we have known, loved, and worked for.