Parentheses aren’t just the mark of a lazy or verbose writer. They can also bracket personal pain in a narrative. At The New York Review of Books, Christopher Benfey explores the power of the parenthetical detail, such as Lolita‘s “My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three.” Pair with: Vulture’s “The 5 Best Punctuation Marks in Literature.”
Hyperallergic has excerpts from Rokudenashiko’s graphic memoir What Is Obscenity? The Story of a Good For Nothing Artist and Her Pussy, which Michael Melgaard recently reviewed at The Millions.
Newsweek Senior Writer (and Millions contributor) Alexander Nazaryan has a new interview with William T. Vollmann up on Newsweek’s website. To start things off right, he reports that if Vollman were to win the Nobel Prize, he’d enjoy giving a decent chunk of the prize money to prostitutes.
We’ve recommended reading up on Jenny Zhang‘s Sour Heart before, this interview in Hazlitt is one of our favorites. “And maybe this is crude to talk about, it’s not even that I don’t want to write a memoir. Beyond that, do you understand how vulnerable it makes someone to call something nonfiction? Not just emotionally vulnerable but financially vulnerable, do you realize someone that makes $40,000 a year cannot be hit by a lawsuit by some angry ex who objected about a chapter about him? Some guy sees one line about him, missing thousands of lines not about him. That’s why celebrities are the ones who write memoirs.”
In the Prospect, an essay on anesthesia, 3D printing, teleportation, LSD, and other thought experiments on self-awareness. Also, this line: “If the spectrum of selfhood begins with the roundworm, surely it ends with Proust.”
Is it possible to share something with a “maybe don’t read this” tag attached? The literary internet has been buzzing today over the moral implications of stripping a writer (and, by association, a human) of their anonymity after this piece on Elena Ferrante was published in the NYRB. Read it or don’t read it, but definitely read her work.