“Reading the Grateful Dead is not a history of the band; it is a study of the landscape they and their fans created, as surveyed from a caravan that crisscrossed the country, Europe, and even Egypt for roughly 2,300 shows over 30 years.” Dead Head Buzz Poole takes a look at “Grateful Dead studies.” (The song that turned him, it turns out, was ‘Scarlet Begonias.’)
After working on his novel Family Life for seven years, Akhil Sharma began to lose his mind. Whenever he sat down to write, he began having panic attacks, the kind that left his chest feeling “constantly bruised” for months on end. Eventually, he hit on a solution: he learned to take his mind off his novel by praying for other people.
“Reading is a type of reckoning with the self. That may sound like a simplistic platitude, but platitudes exist only because they are true, our self-serving intellectual mirrors be damned.” Cher Tan shares a lifetime’s reading history with Catapult, tracing her trajectory from “[k]eeping up with the boys” during high school to this past year, in which she made a personal pact to read only books written by people of color. Pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone in conversation with six authors on their childhood reading.
The Syrian publishing industry is but one of the casualties in the nation’s ongoing civil war. “The whole of publishing is not more than 10 percent of what it was in the past,” says Samer al-Kadri who runs Bright Fingers Publishing House in Damascus.
In general, we think of translators as people whose job, briefly summarized, is to create elegant texts out of works in foreign languages. But J.R.R. Tolkien, in his translation of Beowulf, set out to do something different. The Lord of the Rings author published a translation that he kept intentionally clunky. Why? In his telling, he did it to better imitate Old English.
Chances are you’ve heard that the most important thing a writer needs to make it in the modern lit world is luck. Undoubtedly, there’s a lot of truth to that, but what if there’s another factor that has a bigger impact on a writer’s success? Sean McElwee argues for the importance of something more prosaic.
Don’t let social anxiety trap you in your hotel room at AWP. At Tin House, Courtney Maum gives advice for how to make and keep your writer friends in an essay aptly titled, “How Not to Hate Your Friends.” Her first wise tip: “Only be friends with people you actually like.” Pair with: Our dispatch from AWP 2013 to know what you’re in for.
The newest issue of Granta features some seriously captivating work, like this poem by Juliana Spahr and this story by Lorna Gibb, among many others. This “Possession” issue pairs well with an essay by our own Lydia Kiesling on possessing one’s own words and the narrative potential of leaked emails.