Fellow children of the ‘90s will remember how much that decade was a kind of Golden Age for disaster movies. Then as now, explosive blockbusters like Independence Day, Twister and Dante’s Peak satisfied a collective appetite for wide-scale destruction and mayhem. At The Morning News, Ethan Gilsdorf considers what the genre’s evolution has to say about us.
The Asian American Writers' Workshop is holding the third annual Page Turner: Asian American Literary Festival tomorrow, October 29th in Brooklyn. There you'll find: Junot Díaz, Amitava Kumar, Min Jin Lee, Jayne Anne Phillips, Granta editor John Freeman, two stand-up comedians, five NBA finalists, seven Guggenheim Fellows, and a Korean taco truck.
"It comprises 10 short stories written by Iraqis, all of whom were guided by a simple yet fertile premise: What might Iraq look like a century from now?" The Atlantic review's Tor's anthology Iraq + 100 (originally published last year by Comma Press in England), which was released stateside last month—in an attempt to bring visibility to an underrepresented group of writers in America. Read The Millions' review of the "ambitious short story collection" from March.
“For a woman to be a flâneuse, first and foremost, she’s got to be a walker – someone who gets to know the city by wandering its streets, investigating its dark corners, peering behind façades, penetrating into secret courtyards. Virginia Woolf called it ‘street haunting’ in an essay by that name: sailing out into a winter evening, surrounded by the ‘champagne brightness of the air and the sociability of the streets,’ we leave the things that define us at home, and become ‘part of that vast republican army of anonymous trampers.’” On the female flâneur. Also check out this Millions essay about the flâneur in modern fiction.
In her “Classic Russian Writers: For Teh Internets” column at McSweeney’s, KA Semënova “updates classics of Russian literature with modern technologies to see if the insights of those writers hold up today.” Her first two pieces explore Anton Chekhov’s “The Lady with the Dog” and Vsevolod M. Garshin’s “The Signal.”
In her new book, Hard-Core Romance, Eva Illouz has published the first serious, book-length academic analysis of the Fifty Shades of Grey. The critically-panned Fifty Shades trilogy, originally a Twilight fan fiction, has sold 32 million copies in the US so far. At The New Republic, William Giraldi seizes the opportunity for a brutal send-up of author E. L. James and the “dreck” she represents. "At least people are reading,” he writes, “You’ve no doubt heard that before. But we don’t say of the diabetic obese, At least people are eating.” Pair with The Millions’ essay on literary predecessors in published fan fiction.
In the world of selling books, it's not all about the sentences. At Ploughshares, agent Eric Nelson argues: A fresh plot matters and unusual characters do, too. "The most interesting books have characters who do the opposite of what we’d do... Imagine Hamlet, if Hamlet took decisive action. Horror movies wouldn’t exist at all without the idiot who always suggests they split up."