Eric Benson interviewed Bruce Jackson about “the strange and brutal world of Southern prison farms.” Jackson, who recently published a collection entitled Inside the Wire, snapped prison photographs in Texas and Arkansas from 1964 to 1979. The images depict both the mundane and the surreal, occasionally appearing as though they were “taken from a fever dream.”
“If you lack a competent distributor down here, then consider me at your service. Nothing would make me happier than to drive Salems off the market for good and ever. It’s without a doubt the foulest cigarette in the history of tobacco-addicted man—a tasteless mish-mash of paper and dry weeds.” Boy, Hunter S. Thompson really hated Salems.
“Calvin and Hobbes is certainly not a text about queerness, yet when I returned to it at this altered point in my life, the strip suddenly seemed to describe things that resonated with me now: what it was like to live in a world where expressing your realest self is so often penalized, and the value of finding a second family, a close friend or friends, if your blood family fails to understand or accept the truest version of you.” Gabrielle Bellot at The Literary Hub explains why Calvin and Hobbes is great literature.
“Like reading, love works in roughly the same way every time, but the details of any given case are irreducibly particular, and it’s in the details that everything happens.” Lidija Haas on Elif Batuman’s debut novel, The Idiot. (You could also read our review by Virginia Marshall.)
When a professor of literature wrote Flannery O’Connor for a master key for interpreting her story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” he probably did not expect her particularly unimpressed reply: “Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.” (Via the ever-excellent Letters of Note.)