Octopus Magazine and Octopus Books co-editor Mathias Svalina‘s latest book I Am A Very Productive Entrepreneur was released last month. You can read an excerpt here, or you can check out his short story “The Pregnant Couple” on Matchbook’s website.
"One of the things I like about my job is that it draws on the entire person: not just your knowledge of grammar and punctuation and usage and foreign languages and literature but also your experience of travel, gardening, shipping, singing, plumbing, Catholicism, Midwesternism, mozzarella, the A train, New Jersey. And in turn it feeds you more experience. The popular image of the copy editor is of someone who favors rigid consistency. I don’t usually think of myself that way. But, when pressed, I do find I have strong views about commas." Mary Norris's "Confessions of a Comma Queen," from the New Yorker.
When, in 1921, a young French writer working as a translator for James Joyce asked the writer to reveal his schema for Ulysses, Joyce balked, saying that “If I gave it all up immediately, I’d lose my immortality.” What he meant, at least in part, is that he wanted his opus to be relevant in perpetuity. At Full-Stop, Dustin Illingworth reads Ulysses on Twitter and asks: can the book survive the transition from the page to social media? Pair with: Josh Cook on The House of Ulysses by Julian Rios.
Book reviews are great and all, but even we sometimes feel they're missing something. Enter Kevin Thomas, whose HORN! illustrated reviews for The Rumpus are beautiful and informative in under 9 panels. Compare his pieces on Roxane Gay's An Untamed State or Leslie Jamison's The Empathy Exams to our reviews here and here, and be sure to check out the just-published HORN! The Collected Reviews.
Writing for NPR’s Book News round-up, Annalisa Quinn steers readers toward a recently released FBI file alleging that Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes was in fact a “communist writer” with a “long history of subversive connections.” In her update, Quinn shares some counter-arguments from Fuentes’s colleague and biographer, Julio Ortega.
"No one was more grimly adamant that the world was in mortal peril, or had more fun trying to save it from itself." Over at The New Yorker's Page Turner blog, Alexandra Schwartz considers the life and work of Grace Paley, noting that Paley's slim output "is a great shame, if not so surprising. Activism, like alcoholism, can distract a writer from the demands of her desk." Also of note: this tribute to Paley that our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote upon her death in 2007.