In 1980, Julio Cortázar gave a series of lectures at Berkeley, which you can now read in the slim, simply-titled volume Literature Class. Among the highlights? This sentence: “I had lived with a complete feeling of familiarity with the fantastic because it seemed as acceptable to me, as possible and as real, as the fact of eating soup at eight o’clock in the evening.”
Whether or not you’ve read Grace Paley, you’re likely to appreciate this George Saunders essay about her, which justifies his contention that she’s “one of the great writers of voice of the last century.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s tribute to Paley upon her death.
Don’t forget to return your library books in Texas. This year an Austin man was arrested for failing to return a GED study guide that was three years overdue. Fines and arrest warrants are the new way to break even in towns with shrinking budgets. Other states, such as Iowa, Vermont, and Maine, are joining in.
“‘I think she is better than J. L. Borges—who is good, but not all that good!” said poet Elizabeth Bishop of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. Bishop was one of Lispector’s first English translators, but also one of her fiercest critics. Alexandra Pechman writes for the Poetry Foundation about their literary rivalry and grudging respect. Pair with Magdalena Edwards’s Millions review of Lispector’s The Complete Stories.
England, as you know if you’ve ever read A Christmas Carol, has a long tradition of telling ghost stories around Christmas. What else could you read besides the Dickens classic to partake? At The Paris Review Daily, Colin Fleming lists a number of candidates, including Smee by A.M. Burrage and The Kit-Bag by Algernon Blackwood. You could also check out our reading list for December.
“Life is weird and dumb and restrictive, but a poem can be whatever the hell you want it to be for god’s sake. Other people will always have opinions, they’re just really none of my business.” In an interview at the Lit Hub, Tommy Pico talks about poetry and his creative process.