“There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world…Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well.” A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.
Villanelle Bot, a Twitter bot that composes poems in villanelle form, is publishing the automated poetry on their blog. The bot uses Twitter posts from random people, then stitches together all lines that end in certain words to form a full poem. You could also check out our piece on the best of literary Twitter.
“They are both popular and literary and seem to have no problem standing with a foot in each category.” For The Paris Review, our own Adam O’Fallon Price writes about the “unambiguous sophistication” of Curtis Sittenfeld‘s writing—which is often regulated to the world of “chick lit”—and her new short story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It. (Read our interview with Sittenfeld.)
The latest in virtual author appearances, an especially useful option for literary venues in the snowy midwest during winter: Hannah Tinti on Skype (audio and video) in Minneapolis via the Magers & Quinn “Books & Bars” Book Club series.
“I’m the one who gets asked, publicly, how I manage to write and teach and have three kids. Do you get those questions, or do people just assume there is a woman doing all of the homemaking so you can go upstairs and write?” Poets Tracy K. Smith and Gregory Pardlo discuss David Bowie vs. Elton John, the confessional vs. the abstract, and the balance between family and work. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s new memoir, Ordinary Light.