With news of this year’s winner fresh off the press, it’s easy to see how the Literary Review’s “Bad Sex Awards” are an annual delight to many readers (as well as an annual horror to several authors). But are they also counter-productive? As one former “winner” of the award asks, is the Bad Sex Award “anything more than a sort of moral outrage dressed up as a quest for high standards in writing?”
From the book I’m reading right now: “My mother’s output, starred and pseudonymous, appeared regularly in one of those little, irregular periodicals so limited in readership that they might be called incestuous. Subscription was by invitation only, and contributors would go into a rage over a misplaced comma and brood for days if their poems were understood.”
“To survive, we learned to be great actresses. We cocked our heads just so, we laughed with just the right lilt, we batted our eyelashes and pursed our lips. Sometimes we were innocent, weak and in need of protection; other times we teased and tortured, until our customers raged for release.” Beautiful new fiction by Karissa Chen for Catapult.
Writing for the Wall Street Journal, David Shapiro remarks on the current popularity of the marathon reading, or “a format of communal public performance that has more in common with the filibuster than the conventional literary reading.” Previously, Jeff Price wrote a piece on our site concerning the particular camaraderie that arises among participants and audience members during marathon readings. (As a bonus: I share a David Foster Wallace anecdote in the comments for that piece.)
In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)