“Maybe our anointed literary books just have to be earnest ones because earnest ones showcase that soupçon of intelligence. Maybe humor isn’t felt to indicate a genuine commitment to looking smart.” Year in Reading alum Lydia Millet talks with Jenny Offill about humor writing, what books are “anointed” as modern classics, and Millet’s new book, Mermaids in Paradise.
“To be a Patrick Leigh Fermor, a Colin Thubron, a Norman Douglas or Paul Theroux, requires always saying yes. To not-get-raped, according to every lesson I – and so many other women – have been taught, so often requires saying no.” On the paradox of being a women and a travel writer.
“My whole life, I had used stories, both my own and other people’s, to check out of grocery store lines and long bus trips, stints in doctors’ waiting rooms, heartache, my own depression, and finally of the tedious exhaustion of new motherhood. Now, here I was in this 15-by-20 room, where monitors and alarms were constantly beeping, and there was no way out, except the unimaginable.” Alyson Foster, author of Heart Attack Watch, writes about her son’s illness and her love of reading.
Excerpts from Anthony Michael Morena’s The Voyager Record: A Transmission are now available online in Ninth Letter. Morena combines flash fiction and prose poetry in his record of the phonograph record that was included on the Voyager spacecrafts. The record plated with gold contained 27 songs, 118 images, and greetings in 55 languages, and was meant to summarize all life on Earth for the extraterrestrials.
“This is the first time that the college has embarked on such a robust process for measuring Core Educational Competency In Reading Things In Books And Writing About Them, and we really can’t do it without your mandated participation. We have devised this rubric in consultation with the Office of Institutional Research About the Institution, which tirelessly gathers data and then enters it into spreadsheets. Please see their Statement of Very Worthy Goals in attachment 6.”
“We don’t have to look at Iraq for an analogue to Missouri,” writes Elif Batuman. “We can look instead at Missouri, or elsewhere in the United States.” Indeed for many ordinary Americans, as Jabari Asim echoes in his poem inspired by the recent events in Ferguson, “It’s more than time we had that talk / about what to say and where to walk, / how to act and how to strive, / how to be upright and stay alive.”