A couple weeks back, Jonathan Callahan published a crackerjack essay here on Volume 2 of Karl Ove Knausgaard‘s My Struggle. Little did we know that, even as he was writing it, he was being interviewed about his own literary debut, The Consummation of Dirk, by none other than…Rick Moody.
“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.”
In mid-January, ten days after moving to California, Geoff Dyer suffered a stroke while throwing away trash in his new home. At the hospital, he recovered quickly, but the incident left him “conscious that the ground could open Adairishly beneath my feet at any moment.” In the LRB, he writes about the experience. (Related: Dyer wrote two Year in Reading entries for The Millions.)
“It’s not easy to choose only five books, so I made up my mind and decided to mention the five I can’t help reading again, once in a while, because they are still here for me today.” Here’s a list of five necessary French books that you should be reading, including works by Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Marguerite Duras.
Granta has published translated writing from Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich. She writes: “In 1986 I had decided not to write about war again. For a long time after I finished my book War’s Unwomanly Face I couldn’t bear to see a child with a bleeding nose. I suppose each of us has a measure of protection against pain; mine had been exhausted. Two events changed my mind.” Find out more about Alexievich here.