The unreliable narrator is a bit of a cliche, but it’s still possible to write a good story that features one. At The Rumpus, Alex Dueben talks with Robert Boswell about his new book, which uses a technique Boswell calls “unreliable omniscience.”
On this date 109 years ago, a cartoonist first paired the letter “Z” to the act of sleeping, beating out other attempts to write out the sound of slumber such as the tenacious “g-r-r-k-k-k-k” and the elegant “z-z-z-c-r-r-k-k-k-k.”
Recommended Reading: This excerpt from The Work of the Dead: A Cultural History of Mortal Remains by Thomas Laqueur. In it, Laqueur explores the cultural peculiarities of mourning and the necrobotany of the yew tree, or “tree of the dead.”
Cutting out large chunks of a book is pretty common, but cutting out 200 pages is a little unusual. While working on his latest novel, Joshua Ferris decided to abandon the elements drawn from crime fiction, which meant he had to toss out a huge portion of his draft. “Now that was a fun day,” he says.
Edmund Wilson famously said of the works of H.P. Lovecraft that “the only real horror in most of these fictions is the horror of bad taste and bad art.” In time, however, Lovecraft developed a substantial following, which raises the question of what attracted readers to his work. The answer? “The weird realism that runs through his writings undermines any belief system – religious or humanist – in which the human mind is the centre of the universe.” Related: Ben Dooley on the scariness of House of Leaves.