The 100th episode of Brad Listi’s Other People Podcast is here, and it’s with George Saunders, and they talk about Ayn Rand, grad school, and a lot of other things too.
“All war literature, across the centuries, bears witness to certain eternal truths: the death and chaos encountered, minute by minute; the bonds of love and loyalty among soldiers; the bad dreams and worse anxieties that afflict many of those lucky enough to return home.” In an omnibus review for The New York Times Michiko Kakutani looks at the fiction and journalism being written about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including recent Year in Reading alum and National Book Award winner Phil Klay‘s Redeployment and Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War, “the one book that most fluently and kaleidoscopically captures both the micro and the macro of Iraq.” She also wonders, and attempts to explain, “why has there been no big, symphonic Iraq or Afghanistan novel?”
“I wanted to offer my students an alternative to the purely confessional mode. I wanted them to write about themselves without falling into a paralyzingly portentous tone. I wanted more humor in their work, more complexity, more detail, more balance—more good writing. I wanted fewer italicized passages, less use of the breathless present tense. I wanted no more tears in the workshop, no more embarrassing scenes.” Emily Fox Gordon writes about trauma narratives in the classroom, the trouble with writing as therapy, and the key differences between confessing and confiding in an essay for The American Scholar.
New Herring Press is a Brooklyn/Portland publisher of prose chapbooks, and they’re likely the best new chapbook press you haven’t heard of yet. Volume II of their annual series features titles by Eileen Myles, Justin Torres, Amanda Davidson, and Sara Veglahn, with cover art by illustrator Jacob Magraw-Mickelson. NHP’s ultra-short backlist includes notable authors like Lynne Tillman and Deb Olin Unferth. Volume III is in the works, with authors and artist TBA soon. Check them out at newherringpress.tumblr.com.
One of the struggles of being a writer is that everyone else is trying to turn your life into a story. Rebecca Makkai comments on well-intentioned friends who suggest story ideas at Ploughshares. Read a piece of her story (or screenplay) below:
“WRITER: So I was like, ‘Excuse me, are you with the Secret Service?’ and she’s like—
NEIGHBOR’S BOYFRIEND: Wait, wait, have you written this down? Aren’t you a writer? This would make a great story!”