” I love the shape of words, I love the comet-tail histories of words. I love the roll and crunch of syllables in my mouth.” In Electric Literature, Laura van den Berg interviews R.O. Kwon about religious fanaticism, “unknowing,” and her upcoming debut novel, The Incendiaries. Pair with: Kwon’s 2017 Year in Reading.
Over at the New Yorker, Akhil Sharma argues that “Anton Chekhov’s “Sakhalin Island“, his long investigation of prison conditions in Siberia, is the best work of journalism written in the nineteenth century.” Pair Sharma’s argument, and admiration, with our own Sonya Chung‘s “I Heart Checkov” essay.
Errol Flynn was unique. Quick with a quip, the Australian-born silver screen swashbuckler (and current Tumblr heartthrob) had such immortal lines as, “I like my whiskey old and my women young.” Fans have long been drawn to the actor’s incredibly interesting life—much of which was relayed in his posthumously published autobiography My Wicked, Wicked Ways—so the Cuban National Archive’s uncovering of previously lost footage from his film Cuban Story should excite many of them.
Hot new online magazine Full Stop has chosen The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books as its inaugural book club selection. The discussion will be happening all this week.
One consequence of creating a beloved show is that you’ve got to deal with superficial paeans to it. David Simon has to know this, but he still seems cranky in this interview. Of course I’m not saying he can’t be chagrined by Grantland or Vulture’s recent TV brackets (which Simon singled out in subsequent remarks), but when he says he’s “it’s wearying” for people “to be picking [The Wire] apart now like it’s a deck of cards or like they were there the whole time or they understood it the whole time,” it’s a bit harder to take his side, and you feel like he hasn’t watched Erlend Lavik’s sophisticated and thorough video essay about The Wire‘s visual style. Surely analyses like this (or Žižek‘s, which we’ve mentioned before) deserve due credit.
W.W. Norton puts together a project similar to our Year in Reading (and with some participants in common): Writers Recommend.Another clever batch of recommendations: Village Voice asks several notables to recommend their favorite “obscure” books.Three Percent reveals its 25-book longlist for the “Best Translated Book of 2008” (Bonus Link: The Prizewinners: International Edition)A conversation with South African poet and anti-apartheid activist Breyten BreytenbachTodd Zuniga’s (of Opium Magazine and Literary Death Match) “favorite writers we haven’t heard of yet.”Best book cover designs of the year. (via 3% and kottke)Maud reproduces the memo behind the huge reorganization at Random House (which itself is just one part of the belt tightening hitting the publishing industry in recent weeks.)
“Every story that works gets the level of description that it needs. Which isn’t to say that the level of description needed for every successful story is the same.” Tobias Carroll surveys the wide variety of detail density in fiction for Electric Literature.