Readers of The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature most likely have a good idea of just how much the late Norman Mailer was a wellspring of jokes about writers. The pugilistic novelist, journalist and failed mayoral candidate did choose to title a collection of his work Advertisements for Myself, after all. Yet as Andrew O’Hagan notes in the LRB, it’s hard not to admire the cojones on a guy who once told a prominent editor he was “still too young and too arrogant to care to write the kind of high-grade horseshit you print in Harper’s Bazaar.”
Chemikal Underground, the Glasgow label that first launched Mogwai and Arab Strap, steps into the literary realm with its first audio collection of stories, The Year of Open Doors. You can listen to an excerpt–Arab Strap’s own Aidan Moffat reads his story “The Donaldson Boy.”
“Jo Freeman, a feminist writer and activist who worked with Firestone from the beginning, said at the memorial, ‘When I think back on Shulie’s contribution to the movement, I think of her as a shooting star. She flashed brightly across the midnight sky, and then she disappeared.'” At The New Yorker, Susan Faludi writes on the legacy of Shulamith Firestone.
“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, and Charles Dickens wrote about opium smoking in their novels. But if you read the way they describe opium smoking, without a doubt these people never saw the real thing. It’s laughable…What we see in movies, even to this day, with the obligatory London opium-smoking scene is complete fiction.” Interview with a modern-day opium addict.
“Maybe the optimists are right; maybe poetry does help you live your life. And maybe they are more right than they know, and it rounds you out for death.” Andrew O’Hagan writes for The Guardian about falling in love with poetry and coming to see the poet as “a risk-taker, a miracle-maker, a moral panjandrum and a convict of the senses.”
At the Book Bench, slides of Roland Barthes’ diaries from 1977 in their original, hand-written form: “His brilliance, which indelibly influenced literary theory, semiotics, social theory, and post-structuralism, can make him seem as distant as he is renowned. Yet the diary entries… reveal Barthes to be extraordinarily sensitive and relatable.” (via The Rumpus)