“People used to wish that life could be as it is in books—that it could have the beauty, drama, and shapeliness that writers gave it. Today, by contrast, we hope desperately that life is not really like our writers portray it; in other words, we hope that writers are not representative men and women, but unfit beings whose perceptions are filtered through their unhealth. It is necessary to hope this, because if life were as it appears in our literature it would be unlivable.” Adam Kirsch explores the downside of literary nostalgia.
Originally, the film 2001: A Space Odyssey included more narration by co-writer Arthur C. Clarke, whose short story “The Sentinel” was the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s script. At the last minute, Kubrick decided to cut them out, which led to Clarke leaving the US premiere halfway through. In a piece for The New Statesman an old friend of Clarke’s explores his side of the story. You could also read Ted Gioia on a weirdly predictive ’60s sci-fi novel.
This week, Football Book Club will be reading Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened — as well as chatting about Steven Millhauser’s Edwin Mullhouse, bemoaning our empty NFL-free lives, and weeping about the shittiness of our respective teams.
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.
Who’s the Jimi Hendrix of Wordstock? Though it is unlikely to become a lasting cultural landmark the caliber of Woodstock, the recent Wordstock festival in Portland was nonetheless a runaway success for its 6,000 attendees. This piece on the London Book Fair has a decidedly different tone.