Over at Threepenny Review, Jess Row expounds on “blandness” in the work of Haruki Murakami, and particularly in his 2.8 lb. tome 1Q84—a book tabbed by Charles Baxter in last year’s Year in Reading as the best he’d read all year. Row contemplates the way Murakami’s characters and sentences “almost never lose this placid, observant neutrality,” or “continuous monotone.”
“Over the course of our conversation, I’ve come to understand that he has not written (Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings) to provoke or to engender a self-serving sense of shock; he has written with a belief in the possibilities of liminal space and in the revelations that occur at the point of tension. The result is a book that jars, unequivocally, and that disquietingly brings to the surface the anguish of past and present America.” Stephen O’Connor’s poetic reimagining of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved Sally Hemings has certainly raised some eyebrows. This interview with Melody Nixon at BOMB gives O’Connor a platform from which to explain his idea.
“The company, in its most cutting-edge incarnation, has become the arena in which narratives and fictions, metaphors and metonymies and symbol networks at their most dynamic and incisive are being generated, worked through and transformed… It is funky architecture firms, digital media companies and brand consultancies that have assumed the mantle of the cultural avant garde. It is they who, now, seem to be performing writers’ essential task of working through the fragmentations of old orders of experience and representation, and coming up with radical new forms to chart and manage new, emergent ones. If there is an individual alive in 2015 with the genius and vision of James Joyce, they’re probably working for Google.” From The Guardian, a look at “fiction in the age of data saturation,” with a healthy dose of anthropology thrown in just for fun.
“There are people who believe that readers and writers—at least the right kind of readers and writers—are special snowflakes, existing on a more exalted plane than mere mortals. Book people are educated. They are privileged. They are brave enough to speak out when the emperor shows up naked. They sup on nectar from flowers grown on the sunny slopes of Mount Olympus, harvested by chiton-wearing MFA candidates.” Jennifer Weiner responds to bad Amazon reviews, book blogs, and elitist ” book people” in an essay for The New Republic. We especially enjoy the line about the chitons.
In conversation with New Yorker writer Jia Tolentino, Swing Time author Zadie Smith explained why she doesn’t engage in social media: “I want to have my feeling, even if it’s wrong, even if it’s inappropriate, express it to myself in the privacy of my heart and my mind. I don’t want to be bullied out of it,” according to the the Huffington Post. Read Sarah Labrie‘s essay on social media anxiety from our archives.