The Atavist has been killing it lately. Last month, I was riveted by Joshuah Bearman’s outrageous (and completely true) story of one Brit’s attempt to bring a “Baghdad Country Club” to the city’s Green Zone. This month, “Mother, Stranger,” Cris Beam’s account of her abusive mother–a distant relative of William Faulkner–had me on the verge of tears.
“Without any clear and agreed upon sense for what to be aiming at in a life, people may experience the paralyzing type of indecision depicted by T.S. Eliot in his famously vacillating character Prufrock; or they may feel, like the characters in a Samuel Beckett play, as though they are continuously waiting for something to become clear… or they may feel the kind of “stomach level sadness” that David Foster Wallace described…” Sean D. Kelly navigates past nihilism for the New York Times.
“Home is the place where there is someone who does not wish you any pain.” Stop what you’re doing and go read this interview with Darryl Pinckney, author of Black Deutschland, over at The Rumpus. Here’s a great Millions essay on Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories, which serves as a sort of (misguided) guide map for the protagonist of Black Deutschland.
Thomas Pynchon’s new novel, Bleeding Edge, which we covered in several Curiosities, is out this week. Also out: Traveling Sprinkler by Nicholson Baker; Pickett’s Charge by Charles McNair; and a new translation of Boccaccio’s Decameron by UT-Austin professor Wayne Rebhorn. (For more on these and other upcoming titles, check out our Great 2013 Second-half Book Preview.)