“In one of his last columns, published in March 1966, Flann O’Brien looked back on his catechism, compiled more than twenty years earlier, and described it as ‘an exegetic survey of the English language in its extremity of logo-daedalate poliomyelitis, anaemic prostration and the paralysis of incoherence.’ One month after writing that, he was dead, and yet within a year a remarkable renaissance was taking place, with the long-delayed publication of his great comic fantasy The Third Policeman and, soon afterwards, the first of many anthologies of the ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ columns, this one entitled The Best of Myles.” (Related: our own Mark O’Connell on the humor in O’Brien’s work.)
Read this interview with Mary H.K. Choi where she discusses her novel, Emergency Contact, and how it offers a more modern (2010s) portrayal of Asian American mother-daughter relationships. “Choi’s novel blows up Asian female stereotypes and prods readers to question their own cultural biases about women of color. For instance: Not all Asian moms are like Lane Kim’s in “Gilmore Girls.” Not all of them own antique shops or dry cleaners, care singularly about grades and won’t let their baby tiger cubs date until they’ve finished graduate school.”
Recommended reading: Ben Shattuck spends a night and a day aboard a New England whaling ship in an attempt to better understand Ishmael’s (and Melville‘s) experiences, and combines Moby-Dick excerpts with his own accounts of life onboard in a piece for The Atlantic.
“One of the advantages to being a novelist is removing oneself from the chatter of the fray and trying to get a read and a historical context on what’s happening in one’s own time.” The Guardian interviews Rachel Kushner about women’s prisons, remorse, and her new novel, The Mars Room. Pair with: our review calls Kushner’s latest a “brutal, unforgiving, and often grimly funny tour de force of wasted lives.”
The process of “Russification” is almost as old as Russia itself, yet to see it take shape in the present day can be quite distressing. In particular, Vladimir Putin’s recent proposal in Nezavisimaya Gazeta — in which the prime minister called for a “Russian canon” of literary works — has some people worried about its insidious potential for propaganda. Count Alexander Nazaryan among that group.