“But where Smiley condescended, others were enthralled. Salmon Rushdie waxed lyrical, John Updike found it ‘stunning,’ Susan Sontag hosted him at dinner parties. Gabriel Garcia Marquez dubbed him, simply, ‘the Master’ – high praise from the founder of magical realism, but Kapuściński seemed to one-up Garcia Marquez by injecting magic into real politics, and elucidating thereby the human tension and bewilderment connected to power that traditional journalism left hidden.” Ryszard Kapuściński: novelist? Journalist? Or something else entirely?
Happy(ish) birthday, Gregor Samsa! Here’s a piece from NPR commemorating the 100th anniversary of the publication of Franz Kafka’s masterpiece, The Metamorphosis. Kafka insisted that the story’s insect should never be drawn, but of course Vladimir Nabokov had his own ideas about that. To round out the Kafka news, here’s a review from The Millions of Reiner Stach’s Kafka: The Decisive Years.
Charles Bock (Beautiful Children), in a recent interview, sounding perturbed: “Where are you right now? I’m in a writer’s room in Manhattan. There’s all these other people with their fucking computers doing their stupid little bullshit. It feels pointless. You wanna feel like it matters. It’s hard to do that when you’re in a room like this. At least it’s quiet.”
The Portable Story Series is accepting submissions to their inaugural contest, judged by Year in Reading alumna Kate Christensen. The theme is hunger, the genre is fiction, the word count is 2000-4000 words, and the deadline is March 28, 2016. The contest benefits three charitable organizations.
Graywolf Press’s Poem of the Week is “Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?” by David Bowie-fan Tracy K. Smith. She writes, “Bowie will never die. Nothing will come for him in his sleep / Or charging through his veins.” Pair with Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s new memoir, Ordinary Light.
When The Counselor (trailer here) opens in theaters this month, the occasion will mark a career milestone for Cormac McCarthy. The 80-year-old novelist has been writing original screenplays since the 1970s, but only one of them – a made-for-TV movie called The Gardener’s Son – was produced before this latest effort. Over at The Wall Street Journal, Alexandra Alter takes a look at the author’s involvement in the production of The Counselor, as well as its reception by several film industry insiders and devout McCarthy fans. (“McCarthy writing a sex scene is maybe not a great idea,” one of them says.)