You must obey (and read) your robot overlords! As if winning a literary award wasn’t already hard enough, a story co-authored by computers just made it through at least one round of judging at the Nikkei Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award competition in Japan. But don’t worry, you haven’t lost your job quite yet–the good news is that the programs still have “some problems … such as character descriptions.”
Over at ZYZZYVA, Christian Kiefer talks to playwright Octavio Solis and novelist Scott Hutchins about the craft of writing and the difference between writing plays and writing novels. “It takes a huge amount of hard labor, man, to harness the forces that we are using to make our stories. They may emerge whole cloth out of our need to know how we operate as humans, but they’re often clumsy unfinished beasts.” Kiefer’s new novel, The Animals, is one of the most anticipated books of 2015.
I have a short story in the latest issue of Avery, a young literary magazine I’ve written about before. Avery 4 also includes fiction by Hannah Tinti, Kevin Canty, Rumaan Alam, Samar Fitzgerald, Sophie Rosenblum, Scott Garson, Callie Collins, James Iredell, Jessica Breheny, Sean Walsh, Anna Villegas, and Michael Bourdaghs. It’s wonderful to have found my story such a sleek and beautiful home, filled with so much good company.Here’s the opening of my tale, called “A Love to Calm the Body”: My grandmother fell in love with her doctor. She liked the way he scrubbed his hands. He also washed his forearms, held them wet in front of his body before taking them to the towel. My grandmother had a weekly appointment; she’d been diagnosed with Hysteria – an excess of emotion, a deep feminine sadness. This was in 1899, when my grandmother was twenty-three, two years married. My mother was only an idea then, hovering at the edges. I wasn’t anything at all.Want to read more? You can order the issue online here.
Linda Chavers pens an important letter to black girls everywhere. She writes, “I am giving you the prologue. You must go forward accepting and understanding that no one will ever do it as well as you do, and no one will ever tell you that you do it better than anybody else.” Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s list of books that “shed light on the history and evolution of racism in America.”
The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, the forthcoming debut effort by sometime Millions contributor Elif Batuman, gets an intriguing write-up in Publishers Weekly.
Growing up in California, our own Michael Bourne didn’t have a full sense of his own privilege until 1981, when a chance encounter with a group of teenagers dressed up as skeletons woke him up to the realities of segregation in America. In a long essay for Orange Coast Review, he goes over the meaning of that incident, complete with meditations on Marin County, his abandoned early novel and his family’s history in Danville, Virginia. Pair with: Michael’s piece for The Millions on Tess Taylor’s The Forage House.