“He was a great exploiter.” From This Recording, Samuel Beckett’s recollections of James Joyce, in his own words.
“0.5 hrs: Read this week’s New Yorker fiction. 0.7 hrs: Hated on New Yorker writer with her derivative characters & mise-en-scenes. 0.1 hrs: Looked up ‘mise-en-scene’ on Wikipedia. 1.3 hrs: Phone call with writer friend; discussed how much New Yorker fiction sucks. 0.5 hrs: Drafted & emailed query letter to New Yorker (for super postmodern story).” The good people at McSweeney’s imagine an impossibly tedious world where writers and poets bill by the hour.
“It comprises 10 short stories written by Iraqis, all of whom were guided by a simple yet fertile premise: What might Iraq look like a century from now?” The Atlantic review’s Tor’s anthology Iraq + 100 (originally published last year by Comma Press in England), which was released stateside last month—in an attempt to bring visibility to an underrepresented group of writers in America. Read The Millions’ review of the “ambitious short story collection” from March.
In most portrayals of Cold War espionage, both Communist and capitalist spies appear wedded to their respective ideologies. Yet real spies, as the FBI knows, often have more nebulous motivations. In the Times Book Review, Ben MacIntyre reads the latest by Ha Jin, which centers on a Chinese spy embedded in suburban Virginia.
“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate.” Michael Ian Black reviews two books about the male physique — and reveals a bit about the unrealistic nature of our cultural expectations.