Remember that time Amtrak offered a 10-day train residency, and the internet experienced a collective freakout because trains are literary catnip, and then we found out it was kind of a scam? Barnard Zine Library does, too. In honor of that cultural moment, they recently sponsored an “MTA Residency” that, while less glamorous, has already yielded beautiful work.
"All war literature, across the centuries, bears witness to certain eternal truths: the death and chaos encountered, minute by minute; the bonds of love and loyalty among soldiers; the bad dreams and worse anxieties that afflict many of those lucky enough to return home." In an omnibus review for The New York Times Michiko Kakutani looks at the fiction and journalism being written about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including recent Year in Reading alum and National Book Award winner Phil Klay's Redeployment and Dexter Filkins’s The Forever War, "the one book that most fluently and kaleidoscopically captures both the micro and the macro of Iraq." She also wonders, and attempts to explain, "why has there been no big, symphonic Iraq or Afghanistan novel?"
"Mr. Walt Whitman has imagined that a certain amount of violent sympathy with the great deeds and sufferings of our soldiers, and of admiration for our national energy, together with a ready command of picturesque language, are sufficient inspiration for a poet. If this were the case, we had been a nation of poets." A young Henry James reviews Whitman's Drum Taps.
Over at the Masters Review, Marjorie Sandor writes about the uncanny in literature and film, the origins of the word, and psychology. “Uncanny. Look it up in a standard collegiate dictionary, and you’ll get a brief, unhelpful definition. Seemingly supernatural. Mysterious. [orig. Sc & N. Engl.]. But the slippage has already begun. Seemingly.”
"America has always been built—and continues to be built—by those the establishment keeps invisible." Public Books runs the sixth installment of its "An Engineer Reads a Novel" series, this time taking on Colson Whitehead's Underground Railroad and John Henry Days. We also recently reviewed the former, which has been blessed by both Oprah Winfrey and President Obama.