“The stories that dominated the serious magazines and journals seemed to share a flat fireless quality… Characters dropped half out of love, or endured a minor crisis, or just wandered around treasuring their sense of dismay about, you know, the fallenness of the world.” In case you missed it: Slate’s review of Stuart Dybek‘s new collection of stories, Paper Lantern, also delivers an acerbic take on the modernist past and current “revitalization” of the American short story.
Hollywood is romanticizing the Beat Generation in its recent adaptations of On the Road (trailer here), Big Sur (trailer here), and Kill Your Darlings, and you can blame Millennials. “In casting the authors as eternally and fundamentally adolescent, the recent revival tones down their behavior—both revolutionary and repulsive—as a sort of passing teenage phase,” Jordan Larson argues for The Atlantic.
In the world of selling books, it’s not all about the sentences. At Ploughshares, agent Eric Nelson argues: A fresh plot matters and unusual characters do, too. “The most interesting books have characters who do the opposite of what we’d do… Imagine Hamlet, if Hamlet took decisive action. Horror movies wouldn’t exist at all without the idiot who always suggests they split up.”
“In Colombia, Mexico, Nigeria, Mozambique, it’s the real thing, not magic, and the only way to tell these stories.” Man Booker International Prize finalist Mia Couto discusses the label “magic realism,” the death of Cecil the lion, his new novel Confession of the Lioness – one of the most anticipated books of 2015, and post-civil war Mozambique. Pair with Philip Graham’s Millions essay on Couto’s fiction.
“Home is the place where there is someone who does not wish you any pain.” Stop what you’re doing and go read this interview with Darryl Pinckney, author of Black Deutschland, over at The Rumpus. Here’s a great Millions essay on Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin Stories, which serves as a sort of (misguided) guide map for the protagonist of Black Deutschland.