The introduction Junot Díaz wrote for Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop has been adapted as a contribution to the ongoing conversation (of which The Millions has been a part) about writing programs at large and about MFA vs. NYC specifically. At issue is Díaz’s (rightful) assertion that an important topic – diversity – hasn’t been adequately addressed in evaluations of the supposed program and publishing dichotomy thus far. (Related: Sandra Cisneros’s “I Hate the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.”)
“The point of a party is to make us forget we are solitary, wretched and betrothed to death; in other words, to transform us into animals.” Michel Houellebecq offers some handy tips, over at The Believer. Pair with this Millions review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory.
Our own Bill Morris has a new novel on shelves this week, which you can learn more about in his recent conversation with our own Edan Lepucki. Also out: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman; Wayfaring Stranger by James Lee Burke; All I Love and Know by Judith Frank; Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen; The Hour of Lead by Bruce Holbert; The Spark and the Drive by Wayne Harrison; Owen’s Daughter by Jo-Ann Mapson; and Season to Taste by Natalie Young.
“He is for the most part interested in documenting the sources of our unusual suffering, those initial shocks that brought about the trauma in the first place. Nothing ‘languishes listlessly’ in his music; all those slowly orbiting fragments are drawn back together in furious rotation, sucked inexorably in, towards a volatile core. The mood never stabilizes; madness reigns supreme.” This piece by Tom Regel at The Rumpus on realism in the work of DJ/Producer Flying Lotus is both thorough and convincing.
Coincident with the release of her new novel, Marie-Helene Bertino published an excerpt in the latest issue of Granta. It features, among other things, a character using the phrase “better-him-than-me kind of park.” You could also read Bertino’s interview with Jessica Gross, which followed the publication of her debut book of short stories.
“Why, after all, do writers write? What is the impulse, the insistence on story, on seeing and representing the world? It has little to do with technology although everything to do with narrative, which is a purpose that, on the surface, technology also seems to share. The difference is that the writer creates narrative with intention, whereas technology merely gathers, or processes, information, leaving interpretation, analysis, up to us.” Let’s just say David L. Ulin doesn’t think Joyce would work for Google.