“There is a saying that has become a cliché: ‘Pictures speak louder than words.’ But sometimes, a picture can speak louder than words because it contains a profound silence. It’s what a picture does not say that can often make it loud. What is, after all, a wordless novel but a novel devoted to the message of silence?” On Frans Masereel‘s My Book of Hours, a wordless novel in woodcuts. For another, lighter perspective on the power of picture books, pair with Jacob Lambert‘s “Yet Again, I Ask: Are Picture Books Leading Our Children Astray?“
The January issue of Asymptote is out, featuring an excellent interview with Year in Reading alumnus Junot Díaz about language acquisition and diasporic identity. As he puts it, “I live a life where both English and Spanish are in italics in my brain. It costs me no extra effort; it doesn’t feel unusual; it doesn’t feel like an infirmity, but it does strike me every now and then that there are people who don’t pick over their language the way I do, who aren’t so self-conscious of what they’re saying, who have a natural tongue.” Pair with Thea Lim’s Millions essay on race and gender in Díaz’s books.
As a cultural center with a very different makeup than the various home bases of the publishing world, Los Angeles often gets short shrift in discussions of literary cities. At the LARB (naturally), Sarah-Jane Stratford writes about the city’s importance to speculative literature, with an emphasis on the works of Ray Bradbury. Related: Tanjil Rashid on Bradbury’s Middle East connection.