Recommended Reading: J. M. Tyree’s new story at Guernica. “There’s a man on the bus sitting directly in front of you. He has a small brown spider crawling across his red shirt, near his left shoulder blade.” You could also watch our episode of The Book Report on Our Secret Life in the Movies by Tyree and Michael McGriff.
“The notion that American literature might have an imperial bent—that it might be anything other than a string of lightly co-influential works of ‘imaginative power,’ and might itself reflect our national desire to dominate—is lost on its critics, both right and left.” Jonathan Sturgeon in The Baffler on American exceptionalism and “the imperial self” in fiction, with particular attention paid to the work of two other Jonathans, Franzen and Safran Foer.
“Because I now know that the man who had come to the door was my mother’s stalker, I’ve injected the memory of his arrival at my childhood home with more detail than I actually possess.” From Catapult, the latest installment of “After a Fashion,” writer Esmé Weijun Wang’s monthly column examining articles of clothing she owns and the stories behind them. Consider also our review of Women In Clothes, an anthology resulting from the collaboration of authors Sheila Heti and Heidi Julavits.
To begin to translate a book, you need to hone your knowledge of the language in which it’s written. To write a great essay about translating a book, you need a backstory, an interesting format and two or three foreign parables. At The Rumpus, Brian Oliu writes about translating his grandfather’s book from the Catalan.
“Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them creative geniuses. Some people see things others cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill.” The Atlantic has an excellent contribution to the age-old thesis that creativity and madness are inextricably linked–and tied, moreover, to mental illness–based in part on a sample of students at Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Pair with another essay on creativity and the “touch of madness” from our own archives.
This week saw the release of Vanishing Point, Vol. II: Songs of the Living and Dying. You may recall my earlier mention of the Vanishing Point project, which was recently borne out of Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. This time around, the publication boasts a redesigned appearance, and it features articles and essays about midwifery in Mali, the intersections between poetry and cinema, and a view of Walden Pond that you’ve never seen before — all presented with accompany visual material, and all produced by university students. This is outstanding stuff, and it’s well worth your time.