The Omnivore has announced the shortlist for its the Hatchet Job of the Year Award, honoring “the author of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months.” Worthy candidates all, though we note that our review, written by Holloway McCandless, of Michael Cunningham’s By Nightfall is perhaps even more trenchant than (and was published over a month before) Adam Mars-Jones’ shortlisted review, which, like ours, found Cunningham’s endless references to the literary canon tiresome.
Neil Gaiman’s newest graphic novel isn’t even out yet, but it already has a movie deal. His update on the Brothers Grimm fairytale Hansel and Gretel with illustrations by Lorenzo Mattotti comes out on October 28, and Juliet Blake is developing a live action version. Hopefully, it’s better than Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
“Will anyone in America give a damn about Beig? It’s hard to imagine our glittering zeitgest machine ever getting behind her, with her landscape, her women, her knowledge of the secret lives of animals born for the hatchet. Her writing, so invested in the disappearing rural world, is particular, yes, but universal: her characters love and long and pine away.” Matthew Neill Null is unsatisfied with how American readers have treated the work of the great German novelist Maria Beig. He makes a passionate case in her favor in this new essay over at The Paris Review.
Psychotherapist Ariel Garten redefines consciousness at TEDx Toronto. “The problem with escaping your day-to-day life,” she says, “is that you have to come home eventually.” Her question, which she answers in the affirmative, is whether we can “find ways to know ourselves without the escape? Can we redefine our relationship with the technologized world in order to have the heightened sense of self-awareness that we seek? Can we live here and now in our wired web, and still follow those ancient instructions: ‘Know thyself’?”
“In college, I didn’t realize I was the face of the Diaspora, the embodiment of all the women they thought I was, and who I knew I was. I was from Africa, east and west, a sojourner through the islands of the Caribbean, a daughter of the Second Great Migration of African-Americans from South to North. Perhaps Chaka said it best—to these young men, I was ‘every woman.’ To airport security, I was that woman. The one to be stopped and searched. The one who was suspect. A long-lost daughter whose lineage crossed through Kush—was I carrying Kush now, perhaps, in my hair?” If a ‘Pat-downs, Pissing, and Passport Stamps’ headline isn’t enough to get you to read this great piece from The Literary Hub, hopefully the quote will do.
“The best thing I ever do for my writing is to take a walk alone in the woods behind our house. Nothing else gets my writing juices flowing so well. And yes, I think that I absolutely need more quiet in our current fractured world.” For Poets & Writers, novelist Leesa Cross-Smith interviewed fellow writer Silas House about quiet books and the importance of nature in the writing process. Pair with: our own Emily St. John Mandel on the pleasures of quiet books.
Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there’s no Wild West.