As literary genres go, bathroom graffiti ranks somewhere between obscenities carved into desks and poorly spelled comments in terms of respectability. Yet it’s still a form that could reveal interesting things, which is why a group of researchers took a series of fact-finding trips to public stalls across America. Their takeaway? “The mere fact of being in a public bathroom could be skewing how people choose to present themselves when they uncap that Sharpie.” Related: Buzz Poole on The History of American Graffiti.
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”
At The Rumpus, Greg Hunter talks with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, whose debut novel, Wolf in White Van, came out last month. In the past few weeks, I’ve recommended former Millions-er Emily M. Keeler’s review of the book, as well as a video interview with Darnielle.
Some of Jeff Tweedy‘s favorite writers: “I like Henry Miller a lot. I like William H. Gass a lot. Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, Kurt Vonnegut. . . . I used to walk into bookstores when I was a kid and get the stuff that looked the craziest and the most free.” (In a Rolling Stone interview, unavailable online.)
“James Schiff, an associate professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, is working on a volume of Updike’s letters and has unearthed thousands of letters, postcards, and notes the author sent to complete strangers who wrote to him.” The Guardian writes about an in-progress book of John Updike‘s letters that reveals how often the writer corresponded with not only his contemporaries, like John Barth and Joyce Carol Oates, but his readers as well. See also: an essay about the personal and literary relationship between Barth and Updike.
“I have often thought that if I were ever a drag queen, and more specifically that if I were ever a drag queen who was a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I would play Virginia Woolf — or rather, Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf — in the Snatch Game episode when the contestants don their very best celebrity impersonation.” Untucking RuPaul’s Drag Race at The Los Angeles Review of Books.