What happens if your town’s reputation was made by an author who hated it? Sinclair Lewis grew up in Sauk Centre, Minnesota and scathingly satirized it in Main Street (our Modern Library Revue of it), but it’s the town’s only claim to fame nearly a century later. At The Morning News,
In his latest Year in Reading, Chigozie Obioma told us about Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty Is a Wound, “the howling masterpiece of 2015…a howl, an outrage, and a sheer burst of particular talent.” In an illuminating interview for Electric Literature, Kurniawan discusses the label “magic realism,” epic creation, and his ideas for his next novel.
“Calvin and Hobbes is certainly not a text about queerness, yet when I returned to it at this altered point in my life, the strip suddenly seemed to describe things that resonated with me now: what it was like to live in a world where expressing your realest self is so often penalized, and the value of finding a second family, a close friend or friends, if your blood family fails to understand or accept the truest version of you.” Gabrielle Bellot at The Literary Hub explains why Calvin and Hobbes is great literature.
“In publishing, we see this play out in a number of ways. Marginalized writers are told by white editors, we need your stories now more than ever, as if we have not always needed them urgently. We are told our experiences are timely, exotic, and trendy. We are told our stories are not authentic if our characters do not suffer, as if the only way to prove that we are human is to bleed.” Natalia Sylvester on the erasure that comes when marginalized writers are constantly being told by the publishing industry and others that your book about your marginalized identity is ‘timely’.
Sylvia Plath’s final days have long been a source of fascination and horror for many readers. In a forthcoming unauthorized biography of Plath’s husband Ted Hughes, it is claimed that one of Hughes’s more contentious poems, “Last Letter,” was written after an argument the couple had the night before Plath took her own life. Ted Hughes: An Unauthorized Life is out next week.
In 1962, Samuel Beckett wrote “Play.” Originally intended to be a stage production, the piece has now been adapted as a short film starring Alan Rickman, Kristin Scott-Thomas and Juliet Stepherson. Come for the Beckett writing (full text can be found here), but stay for the disembodied heads-in-urns.
Millions staffer Mark O’Connell recently took a look at Édouard Levé’s Works. “For the most part, it’s a catalogue of unrealized creativity,” he writes. “Which in the very extensiveness of its cataloging becomes a monstrous paradox of realized creativity.” (Related: O’Connell previously reviewed Levé’s Suicide and Autoportrait for our site.)