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.”
In the latest issue of The Walrus, Casey Plett reads a number of books involving transgender people, critiquing several aspects of their depictions. Along with the essay, she provides a list of transgender novels everyone should read, including Nevada by Imogen Binnie and Wanting in Arabic by Trish Salah.
You’re probably up to your neck in World Cup coverage, but here are some gems well worth your attention no matter what: Teju Cole created a “Copa do Mundo do Brasil” playlist to set the mood; Pablo Torre’s one-sentence-long summation of Day One in São Paulo; an excerpt from Aleksandar Hemon’s The Matters of Life, Death, and More: Writing on Soccer; The New Republic’s round-up of “eleven writers and intellectuals on the World Cup’s most compelling characters“; and, of course, Shaj Mathew’s recent Millions review of Brazil’s Dance with the Devil.
Here are three pieces about horror in honor of 2012 being the centenary of Bram Stoker’s death. 1) Yazan al-Saadi’s fascinating survey of Arabic horror cinema, which is not only “about what can frighten most Arab audiences, [but is] … also a chronicle of the abnormalities and dysfunctions lacing the underbelly of Arabic cinema as a whole.” 2) Ed Park’s essay on “the audacious enterprise” of Rosemary’s Baby. 3) Stuart Kelly’s entreaty for modern writers of horror to “raise its game.”
“War happens when words no longer work. Yet war is declared at the very point when words are at their most powerful. It’s an odd kind of paradox. In a time of war, the familiar words of your own language can become even more significant, as language is linked to the idea of home.” At JSTOR Daily, linguist Chi Luu looks at trauma and language loss.
“By having children, I’ve both sabotaged and saved myself as a writer… Many of the writers I love most were alcoholics. I’ve made my choice, I sometimes think: Wonderful children instead of hard liquor.” The Paris Review interviews Louise Erdrich for its Winter issue.
“Adolf Hitler loved books—that nasty bent for book burning notwithstanding—and the book industry loves him back. Type his name into Amazon, and while he doesn’t trigger the English-language numbers of Jesus (186,740) or Lincoln (70,710), he registers a solid 18,597—a stunning figure for someone who died less than 70 years ago.” On the Fuhrer’s paradoxical relationship with literature.