“Imaginary Oklahoma” is an ongoing platform at This Land Press in which “some of today’s most important and influential writers combine with artists from outside the state [of Oklahoma] to provide a fictional take on this place we call home.” New Yorker editor, author of Celebrity Chekhov, and chart enthusiast Ben Greenman has written a piece entitled “Always and Forever.”
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the "dispassionate first-person narrators" prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. "Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian."
Caitlin Flanagan's long Atlantic piece on Joan Didion has sparked a lot of conversation. Among the article's contentious lines: "to really love Joan Didion ... you have to be female."
New this week: Gary Shteyngart's much buzzed about Super Sad True Love Story, Rick Moody's The Four Fingers of Death (another literary dystopia), and a new Roberto Bolaño collection, The Return. Bonus for GN'R fans: GN'R drummer Steven Adler's tell-all memoir My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N' Roses.
Though excellent fiction has been staged in restaurants (Richard Russo's Empire Falls comes to mind, as well as YA novel Hope was Here), I have to admit Rebecca Makkai at Ploughshares has a point that dining-in-public scenes are getting a bit old. "All the unfolding of napkins and poking at the French fries... it's filler."
“The parties are pleased that they have amicably resolved this matter and look forward to working together in the future.” The estate of J.R.R. Tolkien and Warner Bros. have settled an $80 million lawsuit over the digital merchandising of products from The Lord of the Rings series, reports The New York Times. Of particular offense to Tolkein's estate: "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Online Slot Game." Before any of that, though, there was The Story of Kullervo.