Last week, Kyle Boelte reviewed On Immunity by Eula Biss, delving into its lengthy history of inoculation and public health. At the Harper’s blog, Jeffery Gleaves talks with Biss as part of their Six Questions feature, asking her about Susan Sontag, public versus private danger and the relationship between capitalism and anti-vaccination sentiment.
“The first section of the book inevitably ends up taking on a Rashomon-ic quality, as Sotatsu’s father, mother, brother and sister all get their say about what transpired during his time in prison, along with a prison guard who observed him. But [Jesse] Ball doesn’t let them fall into the he said-she said realm of one-note characters — these are fully fleshed-out people, whose thoughts, emotions and agendas are as real (and sometimes as contradictory) as your own.” On Silence Once Begun.
If Claudia Rankine writes it, it’s safe to say I’d recommend it. Here she is in a long, lovely essay on Adrienne Rich and her poetic transformations.
Sick of feeling inadequate compared to your literary peers? Well, you might want to stop reading, then: turns out Adam Thirlwell published his first book when he was three. (The readers of Granta learn this not from Thirlwell, who seems a bit abashed, but instead from Year in Reading alumnus Jeffrey Eugenides.)
“There is a saying that has become a cliché: ‘Pictures speak louder than words.’ But sometimes, a picture can speak louder than words because it contains a profound silence. It’s what a picture does not say that can often make it loud. What is, after all, a wordless novel but a novel devoted to the message of silence?” On Frans Masereel‘s My Book of Hours, a wordless novel in woodcuts. For another, lighter perspective on the power of picture books, pair with Jacob Lambert‘s “Yet Again, I Ask: Are Picture Books Leading Our Children Astray?“
A D Jameson asked HTMLGIANT readers to name “the best story that [they’d] read in the past few years,” and then he handily rounded up all of the answers and arranged them chronologically. He even provided links when he could. I guess we’ll see you guys next month!