The Believer posts a 2003 essay featuring Donald Barthelme’s reading list, which came secondhand to Kevin Moffett, a self-professed non-reader: “Barthelme’s only guidance, passed on by Padgett Powell, one of Barthelme’s former students at the University of Houston and my teacher at the time, was to attack the books ‘in no particular order, just read them,’ which is exactly what I, in my confident illiteracy, resolved to do.” (via The Paris Review)
I am very sad to report that William Gay, whom we featured in our “Post-40 Bloomers” series last fall, died on Friday, at the age of 68. From Clarksville Online: “At first, I would send a story to the New Yorker and when it came back, I’d send it to The Atlantic, or Harper’s or Esquire. I didn’t know about the college literary magazines but when I found out about them, I started getting published. After I finally got published in the Georgia Review, I got a call from the editor at The Atlantic. He asked why I wasn’t sending them something because they’d like to publish my work. I told him I’d been sending things for years. He said they never got to his desk. I had to wonder what kind of operation they were running.” Look for his final novel The Lost Country, hopefully coming soon.
“Perhaps I will just go underground and live a quiet life of desperation. I’ve heard mumblings about a place called ‘Social Media Manager.’ It seems like a nice place where all people my age go for a while. Just until things start to make sense again.” Nobody knows the throes of existential angst quite like a twenty-something. Here’s a plea for help from one such twenty-something over at McSweeney’s.
Susan Sontag once wrote that the truest way to portray illness was without metaphor. Our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee takes a look at autism in recent literature and the ways its writers (ranging from Don DeLillo, Jonathan Lethem, and Louise Erdrich) have often reduced those with autism to a literary construct.
“If we have no internal lives, then artists are free to make them for us, or to use us as tools for providing depth and motivation to the non-autistic characters, the real ones.” Sarah Kurchak writes for Electric Literature on the abysmal state of autistic representation in books, film, and television, namechecking both The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and A Visit From the Goon Squad, which we considered here and here, respectively.