At the Fiction Writers Review, Robin Black sits down with contributor and Year in Reading alumna Nichole Bernier. The two discuss, among other things, Bernier’s new novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D., as well as novels in which lengthy sections feature characters reading journal entries. (Bernier calls them “funhouse mirrors.”)
“Long before feminism made fashion a guilty pleasure, my first experience of the sisterhood among strangers took place in a communal dressing room.” Judith Thurman writes for The New Yorker about Women in Clothes and her experiences in thrift stores and clothing swaps. For more about the connections between feminism, dressing and literature, check out Rachel Signer‘s Millions review of the same anthology.
Last year, Laura van den Berg came out with a new book, The Isle of Youth, which Nathan Huffstutter reviewed for The Millions. On the Guernica blog, Dwyer Murphy interviews van den Berg, who talks about jacket photos, her first collection and whether a writer from Florida is part of the Southern tradition. (You could also read van den Berg’s Year in Reading entry.)
“‘It’s important to realize how the funniness in these videos [such as those featuring Kai the axe-wielding hitchhiker and Uncle Ruslan] is really close to something that’s desperately unfunny,’ says Mark O’Connell, who wrote Epic Fail: Bad Art, Viral Fame, and the History of the Worst Thing Ever.”
“Every one of these books is a herd of animals.” The Atlantic reports that a group of archaeologists and geneticists in the UK have used mere crumbs of parchment to study the DNA of several thousand-year-old illuminated manuscripts, the pages of which were made of cow and sheep skins.
A surreal theater production of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, directed by Yukio Ninagawa, premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival in July. Ian Buruma writes for the NYRB about the marriage of tradition and modernity, and Western and Eastern references in the play. As he puts it, “even without traditional references, the production—perhaps more than Murakami’s novel—is still unmistakably Japanese: stylized, poetic, comical, violent, full of spectacular effects, and often exquisitely beautiful to look at. The setting jumps at lightning speed from a bus station, to a library, to a sleazy bar area. Various characters emerge and disappear, like memories or scenes from a dream, in an assortment of moving transparent boxes.”
Recommended Listening: Ursula K. Le Guin talks with host David Naimon about her classic book Steering the Craft and argues that issues of class, race, gender, and morality cannot be separate from grammar. Pair with Paul Morton’s Millions interview with the author.