From Werner Herzog’s letter to Rosalina, the woman he employs to keep his house: “Music is futile and malicious. So please, if you require entertainment while organizing the recycling, refrain from the ‘pop radio’ I was affronted by recently. May I recommend the recitation of some sharp verse. Perhaps by Goethe. Or Schiller. Or Shel Silverstein at a push.”
“Sometimes I fear that Midwestern authors are seen from a similar vantage point: that many of us are ‘fly-over writers’ to whom readers wave (or just ignore completely) as they make their way to Saul Bellow and Stuart Dybek and Marilynne Robinson. I fear that these bigger names, along with a few others (Charles Baxter, Lorrie Moore), are seen as exceptions to the general rule that little of cultural worth grows in this flat, middle stretch of the country.” On the plight of the literary Midwesterner.
Over at Full Stop, Scott Cheshire mulls the concept of Armageddon, or, as he calls it, “The Other American Dream.” Meanwhile, a French photography team is traveling the world to take pictures of cities “without signs of life.” Perhaps the fascination isn’t so American after all.
The Republic of South Sudan has declared independence. Just three years ago, Dave Eggers published Out of Exile: Narratives from the Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan (Voice of Witness). The Guardian has an excerpt. A year later, Jamal Mahjoub foresaw the secessionist fervor south of Darfur.
Mozambican author Mia Couto has won the 2014 Neustadt Prize. The prize, which awards the recipient $50,000 and is sponsored by the University of Oklahoma, recognizes exceptional fiction writers, poets and playwrights from around the world. Pair with Philip Graham’s Millions essay on Couto.