A hundred years after the First World War began, many people are looking anew at the conflict, among them Thomas Laquer, who wrote a lengthy reflection of its causes in an LRB review of Christopher Clark’s The Sleepwalkers. In The New Yorker, George Packer uses the war as a jumping-off point for an essay on a broader topic: the evolution of war literature in the modern world.
“Wasn’t Pogofest the type of idea barely solvent towns pay marketing consultants millions of dollars to avoid? Who was Pogofest supposed to appeal to, besides—thirty years after the fact—me? I pose the question to Janice Parks, a former city commissioner. ‘Well, look what a rat did for the wasteland of Central California,’ she says.” A bizarre, slightly surreal look at Waycross, Georgia — the self-proclaimed hometown of Pogo Possum.
There are many things you could call William S. Burroughs, who was born a hundred years ago this month, but Will Self prefers to call him “the original junkie,” a title which reflects the author’s hedonistic background and the strangeness of books like Naked Lunch. Self takes a close look at Burroughs’s novel-cum-memoir, Junky, in The Guardian.
“I grew up hearing my father digging into words for images that will stretch the limits of life for my siblings and me. In my father’s mouth, bitter, rigid words become sweet and elastic like taffy candy. His poetry shields us from the poverty of our lives.” Kao Kalia Yang for The Literary Hub on learning to understand her blue-collar father as a legitimate literary force.
In exciting micro library news, Book Riot reports that the 50,000-th Little Free Library was “planted” on November 4th, doubling the number of Little Libraries in the U.S. a year and a half ago. We’re all in agreement that big libraries are more vital than ever, though, right?
It’s “Bulgaria Week” at Granta, and you can celebrate by reading two of Ivan Landzhev‘s poems, a short story by Rayko Baychev, a piece by Georgi Tenev, and many more. In case that isn’t enough, however, FiveChapters has posted Miroslav Penkov‘s “Makedonija,” and he has a short essay on the FSG Work in Progress site.