Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin discusses the lessons he’s learned over the past year. He also gives a shout out to Underground, a film by Serbian director Emir Kusturica. Elsewhere, Zeitlin shares some of the music, books, and movies he’s been enjoying of late.
The creative writing department at Florida International University has released the ninth issue of their on-campus literary magazine, Gulf Stream. The issue features the publication’s first inaugural Author Roundtable – a discussion between agents and writers from the Miami Writers Institute and novelists Cathy Day and Marc Fitten.
“We all read from different places, different backgrounds, and my meeting with Proust or Woolf, or Lydia Davis or J. M. Coetzee, will not be yours, nor should it be. On the other hand I do believe reading is an active skill, an art even, certainly not a question of passive absorption. … [so] there must be techniques and tools that everyone can use or try, even if we use them differently.” Tim Parks explains how he reads for The New York Review of Books.
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
You’ll have to read this Curiosity to believe it! The surprise bestselling Time-Life series was wildly popular in the late 80s–but why? The answer is a bit less mysterious than one might have hoped. As a consolation, here’s a related essay from The Millions on conspiracy literature.