If you haven’t gotten enough of literary New York quite yet, here’s what the Guardian (UK) thinks you should be reading about “the American dream concretised in a shimmering mirage, the burgeoning metropolis of hope built on foundations of money, drugs and exploitation.” Less judgmentally, Grantland’s Kevin Nguyen focuses on two new books set in Queens, recommending High As the Horses’ Bridles by The Millions’ own Scott Cheshire, which is no Brooklyn hipster novel: his opening scene (“among the finest published this year”) has a 12-year-old offering a prophecy of Armageddon.
“After ten years of painting, that is to say ten years of using an abstract, invented language, writing stories was the closest I had come to working in the realm of ‘realism.’ It was the most direct I had ever been in my art. Perhaps the most direct I had ever been. But, as I learned from the comments of my peers in workshop (‘this isn’t a story,’ ‘this is poetry,’ ‘what is this’), my writing was something other than what we referred to as literary realism. By which I mean, the writing many have come to believe most accurately represents life.” Susan Steinberg asks what happened to American experimental writing.
“To be awake was a thing many had dreamed of, while continuing to sleep for years, like the famous princess in her coffin of glass. Once I opened a Chinese fortune cookie that said, Some will attain their heart’s desire, alas.” Revisiting this fantastic Anne Carson poem, “The Day Antonioni Came to the Asylum (Rhapsody),” over at The Paris Review. Carson’s newest, Float, is due out in a couple of months.
James Joyce inspires a lot of English papers but not songs. Yet musician Casey Black based his song “Happiness” off of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. With lyrics like, “So I walk the Dublin streets like they were passageways through my soul,” we think Joyce would approve.
Anna Sun profiles the work of Mo Yan, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. While Sun acknowledges Yan’s popularity and prolific output, she also notes that what the Nobel committee referred to as “hallucinatory prose” is more often than not “repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.” Indeed, Sun writes, “the English translations of Mo Yan’s novels … are in fact superior to the original.” [Ed. Note: It appears the Kenyon Review link was briefly not working; this Google cache may work better — h/t Dan Farrely]
New books of poetry from names like Linda Gregerson and James Tate are always a cause for celebration. Over at the New Yorker, Dan Chiasson takes a look at Gregerson’s Prodigal: New and Selected Poems and Tate’s Dome of the Hidden Pavilion in one extremely thorough essay.