With the full trailer out for the upcoming James Bond release, Skyfall, I have to confess I’m totally obsessing over British spy stuff of late. Luckily there are some supplements to scratch that itch: Tina Rosenberg’s new story for The Atavist, D for Deception, about a real British spy writer who became a spy himself; Bee Wilson’s fascinating review of Ben MacIntyre’s outrageous but true investigation of WWII double agents, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies; Alexander Cockburn’s recap of the time George Orwell supplied “a list of the names of persons on the left who he deemed security risks” to the IRD; the story of Ernest Hemingway’s lousy espionage; and the video Her Royal Majesty’s recent skydiving escapade with 007.
Jeff Sharlet had a challenge for his creative nonfiction students at Dartmouth College. Sensing that journalism had become too “dull,” too mired in a “culture of professionalism” divided “between reporting and ‘storytelling,’” Sharlet asked his students who didn’t “know [any] better” to create a magazine of their own. The result, 40 Towns, embraces “the right conditions” of literary creation – immersion, journalism, regionalism and “a term of revision” – to present a “collection of documents, artifacts of real life” about the Upper Valley.
In his latest Year in Reading, Chigozie Obioma told us about Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty Is a Wound, “the howling masterpiece of 2015…a howl, an outrage, and a sheer burst of particular talent.” In an illuminating interview for Electric Literature, Kurniawan discusses the label “magic realism,” epic creation, and his ideas for his next novel.