Take a break from watching the snowboarding and skating at the Winter Olympics, and read some Russian literature instead. At NPR, Andrew D. Kaufman recommends three books to learn more about the Caucasus. For more on Russian literature, read our own Nick Moran’s essay on duels in Russian fiction.
“In the new environment, science fiction writers needed new formulas – or even better, needed to have the courage to operate without pre-cooked recipes of any sort. In short, science fiction needed to grow up and take on the adult world, in all its messiness and uncertainty.” Ted Gioia pens a paean to sci-fi writers of the 1960s. Among his recommendations (including a reading list of 64 works): Camp Concentration by Thomas M. Disch, whose larger oeuvre is considered here.
Electric Literature held a Twitter contest recently in which their followers invented new literary neologisms for a chance to win copies of Carson Mell’s new e-book Saguaro. For my money, the clear winner was “Vonnegutsy: having the fortitude to mix aspects of genre fiction with literary fiction.”
Even though William Faulkner once described Hollywood as the “plastic asshole of the world,” he spent two decades writing screenplays there. At Garden & Gun, John Meroney examines Faulkner’s film career, including writing for Howard Hawks and having an affair with his secretary. Pair with: Our essay on Cormac McCarthy’s attempt at screenwriting.
The January issue of Asymptote is out, featuring an excellent interview with Year in Reading alumnus Junot Díaz about language acquisition and diasporic identity. As he puts it, “I live a life where both English and Spanish are in italics in my brain. It costs me no extra effort; it doesn’t feel unusual; it doesn’t feel like an infirmity, but it does strike me every now and then that there are people who don’t pick over their language the way I do, who aren’t so self-conscious of what they’re saying, who have a natural tongue.” Pair with Thea Lim’s Millions essay on race and gender in Díaz’s books.
Bygone Bureau editor Jonathan Gourlay spent eleven years living on the microscopic island of Pohnpei, and fortunately for us he kept his wits about him long enough to churn out a “funny, haunting travel memoir” entitled Nowhere Slow. You can check out an excerpt from the eBook over here.
Even as much of the Eastern U.S. is lashed by a massive storm, we have new books this week, skewing mostly to non-fiction, including Kurt Vonnegut’s collected letters, Richard Russo’s memoir Elsewhere, James Wood’s collection of essays The Fun Stuff, and Peter Carlin’s authorized biography of Bruce Springsteen. On the fiction side is Emma Donoghue’s Astray.