“Eric Nusbaum went to a bullfight in Mexico City, and, among other things, he realized Ernest Hemingway was totally wrong.”
“A vast human action is going on. Death watches. So if you have some happiness, conceal it. And when your heart is full, keep your mouth shut also.” Saul Bellow saw a bit of resurgence this year with the publication of his collected non-fiction, There Is Simply Too Much to Say. Why do we need him now more than ever? According to Michael Weiss at The Daily Beast, it’s because he has “a bit of the opposition in him.” This essay is exhaustive and thoroughly researched and well worth your time.
A couple weeks ago, Brian Ted Jones reviewed The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell, which “takes place on the margins of a grand, cosmic struggle.” Not long afterwards, at The Rumpus, Woody Brown offered a somewhat negative take on the book, arguing that Mitchell makes it too difficult for the reader to suspend her disbelief. You could also read Brown’s Millions review of Haruki Murakami’s new novel.
“In a bewildering new trend, it is young rationalist bloggers in Bangladesh who have emerged as the primary target of Islamic extremists.” K. Anis Ahmed writes about the brutal murders of bloggers at the front of the secular movement who have demanded punishment for those committing genocide. Pair with an essay from Hasan Altaf about how celebrating literature can be a form a protest.
“I began to wonder: what would a manifesto for bad poetry look like? Would it differ either superficially or deeply from the art’s graver manifestos? It really wouldn’t have to. It would merely have to persuade, and persuasion sounds very much the same whether it is honest or dishonest. If it was any good it would hold great attractiveness as a snappy piece of writing, but, if followed, it would be certain to produce bad poetry. Some harmless sophistry. In this it would be more effective than any positive manifesto, because, if guided well, no-one who sets out to write a bad poem is going to accidentally write an excellent one.” Erik Kennedy lays out a manifesto for bad poetry, titled “Precepts for Perfection in Poetry,” for The Rumpus. For a counterpoint, pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s look at very good and very sad poetry, “The Saddest Poem Ever Written.”
“We wanted to show a side of the migration crisis that is rarely portrayed, steering away from the depictions of nameless masses by certain media and politicians,” write the producers of Mr. Gay Syria, a documentary about Syrian refugees and their quest to shine a spotlight on the community of “Syrians who had to run away from war and homophobia,” and who have relocated to Turkey, “a place that did not accept them either.” Now, after two years of work, the filmmakers are raising money to fund post-production and community outreach. You can donate here, and visit their Facebook or Twitter pages for more information.
A half-century ago, Thomas Berger published Little Big Man, a satire of Westerns that helped increase the stature of the Western genre as a whole. To mark the book’s 50th anniversary, Allen Barra reflects on its legacy, suggesting that it’s as good a candidate as any for the title of Great American Novel. Related: Daniel Kalder on the odd phenomenon of the Euro-Western.