Every Tuesday from now until November 6th, Melville House will post original flash pieces about the U.S. presidents. Here’s Millions contributor Steve Himmer on George Washington, and here’s Level End author Brian Oliu’s take on James Monroe.
“When it comes to the personal essay, we want so much and there is something cannibalistic about our desire. We want essayists to splay themselves bare. We want to see how much they are willing to bleed for us. This desire introduces an interesting tension for essay writers. How much should they bleed, and how much blood should they save for themselves?” Roxane Gay reviews Meghan Daum‘s The Unspeakable and reflects on the personal essay for The New York Times Book Review. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s Millions review of the same book.
In his new book, one of three coming out now or soon, Australian poet Clive James assembles his decades of knowledge into a series of mini-essays, many of which originally appeared in Poetry magazine. At Slate, Katy Waldman reads the collection, explaining why it gave her the urge to quote James ad infinitum. You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on the poet’s book Cultural Amnesia.
“Is the reason to have a home, as the narrator in Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, asserts, ‘to keep certain people in and everyone else out’? Or does home, as the narrator in William Maxwell’s autobiographical novel So Long, See You Tomorrow suggests, work primarily as a scaffolding of known things — as a place to read, a place to stash the damp umbrella, a place to listen to the porch swing creak?” Beth Kephart on the literary significance of home.
“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.