“This is what set Geeshie and Elvie apart even from the rest of an innermost group of phantom geniuses of the ’20s and ’30s. Their myth was they didn’t have anything you could so much as hang a myth on.” John Jeremiah Sullivan investigates more mysterious musicians in The New York Times Magazine. Bonus: You can listen to their music as you read. For more of Sullivan’s music journalism, read his piece on the origins of ska.
All of us have particular words that we use a little too often. Writers tend to be embarrassed about their predilections for certain turns of phrase. At Slate, Matthew J.X. Malady reacts to the news that he uses iteration too much, and delves into the ways our verbal habits spread to others.
Edwidge Danticat gives us one of the best definitions of the short story in an interview with Kima Jones at The Rumpus. “The short story is like an exquisite painting and you might, when looking at this painting, be wondering what came before or after, but you are fully absorbed in what you’re seeing.” They also discuss Danticat’s novel Claire of the Sea Light, Haitian and Dominican relations, and giving yourself permission to tell the truth. To find out what Danticat has been reading, see her 2013 Year in Reading.
Back in April, our own Sonya Chung linked to an excerpt on Bloom of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, then featured on the cover of the Sunday Times Book Review. At Bookforum, Lisa Locascio reads the book, drawing comparisons to Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker and Hari Kunzru’s The Impressionist.
Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal’s column for The New York Times debuted last week with her reflections on the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. As she puts it, “He is a spider of a writer: subtle and sly, patient, with invisible designs. He never proclaims — he never needs to. He envelops.” Pair with John Yargo’s Millions essay on Hrabal’s fiction.