Though excellent fiction has been staged in restaurants (Richard Russo’s Empire Falls comes to mind, as well as YA novel Hope was Here), I have to admit Rebecca Makkai at Ploughshares has a point that dining-in-public scenes are getting a bit old. “All the unfolding of napkins and poking at the French fries… it’s filler.”
Recently, it seemed hard to find a book not blurbed by Gary Shteyngart. He did blurb 150 books in the past decade. Yet now the author has decided to mostly retire from blurbing, he announced in The New Yorker. “Literature can and will go on without my mass blurbing. Perhaps it may even improve.” Pair with: Our own Bill Morris’s essay on whether or not to blurb.
“There are two extreme views about punctuation … the first is that you don’t actually need it because it’s perfectly possible to write down what you want to say without any punctuation marks or capital letters and people can still read it youdontevenneedspacesbetweenwordsreally. The second view is that punctuation is essential, not only to avoid ambiguity but also because it ‘shows our identity as educated people.’” Here is Adrienne Raphel from The New Yorker with a history of punctuation in the internet age.
“We can work harder to mourn, get better at it, connect it better to how we live, how we care for people, how we educate people. It’s politics, for me.” ZYZZYVA interviews Max Porter about his Grief Is the Thing with Feathers. Pair with Lidia Yuknavitch’s Millions essay on grief and art.
While East Coasters are still dealing with the wrath of Hurricane Irene, the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina passed yesterday. NPR has a timely interview with host Michel Martin, musician Irvin Mayfield and Keith Spera, author of Groove Interrupted: Loss, Renewal and the Music of New Orleans. Likewise, Rivka Galchen‘s 2009 Harper’s essay “Disaster Aversion” bears re-reading.
We celebrated Canada Day a bit early here yesterday with the news that Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature and our review of Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam. So what is Canadian literature exactly? Atwood offered her definition for The Daily Beast: “It’s too multiple [to give a concise definition], but let us say that the point of view (if the writer is not pretending to be American, which they often are) is never that of someone who feels that their country is an imperial power. Because, in fact, Canada is not an imperial power.” You can also see The Handmaid’s Tale at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet next week.
“Putin, like Hitler, understood that the purpose of spectacles is to dazzle the eye while clouding the mind.” For the Daily Beast, staff writer Bill Morris writes about the thuggish dictators who love the propaganda of the World Cup. (If you haven’t already checked out our list of seven great soccer reads, do it now!)