“There was an inefficient system in place, and what I did was subvert it by an external rotation of reluctant holly jollies. Nasally, I came to understand that light is a thing that is produced through the collision of particulates, and boy isn’t that the truth.” As part of their year-end review, McSweeney’s republished their ten most popular pieces of 2014, including the above. Its title? “Donald Barthelme Narrates the Progress of the Reindeer.”
I've got another post up about Nadeem Aslam's Maps for Lost Lovers at the LBC Blog. I've been going back and forth with Sam (of Golden Rule Jones), so check out his posts, too.Calvin Trillin talks turducken and other things Cajun in the most recent issue of National Geographic. The piece is typical Trillin, funny and featuring mouth-watering descriptions of various regional delicacies. (Much like the articles collected in a favorite book of mine, Trillin's Feeding a Yen)Jim Crace discusses his Guardian column, The Digested Read, "The idea of rewriting a book in the style of the author in just 500 or so words is a gift to any satirist, and it remains the only outlet in the print media where publishers' hype always gets treated with the irreverence it deserves." A collection of the columns is out in EnglandThe CS Monitor takes a look at the self-publishing craze: "IUniverse, which prints several thousand books annually, reports submissions are up 17 percent in the first six months of this year."A couple of new McSweeney's offerings that you may or may not have seen already. Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things... is anthology for young adults, edited by Lemony Snicket and with stories by Nick Hornby, John Scieszka and Neil Gaiman, among others. Meanwhile Issue #17 of their Quarterly Concern is also out. According to Amazon: "Issue 17 is not an ordinary issue of McSweeney's. It is, however, an ordinary bundle of mail, stacked and rubber-banded, containing the usual items: a recent issue of Yeti Researcher, a sausage-basket catalog, a flyer for slashed prices on multi-user garments, a couple letters... the usual. Also: the debut of a DVD quarterly, featuring never-before-seen work by Spike Jonze and David O. Russell. Also: stories."
The last meal is a curious staple of modern executions, not least because it involves, in the words of one death-row inmate, “putting gas in a car that don’t have no motor.” At Lapham’s Quarterly, an essay on the ritual’s history, one that includes mention of famous last meals like terminally ill French President Francois Mitterrand’s final dinner of “Marennes oysters, foie gras, and two ortolan songbirds.”
Writers are told that they should outline their work. Elizabeth Gilbert has outdone us all by writing a 70-page outline for The Signature of All Things. "I have no German Romantic idea about work. There’s no fugue state, you know? I could no more write at 3 a.m. than I could with a quill pen. I keep farmer’s hours and I have that sort of plotting and plodding way," she told The Daily Beast.
"The older I get, the more my own boundaries seem to be fading, which is terrifying and fascinating in equal measure." For The Paris Review, Lucie Shelly interviewed Lauren Groff about nature, spirituality, and her newest collection, Florida. (Our review called the collection "startling and precious.")