“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.”
David Lipsky writes for Harper’s about Letters to Véra, which collects Vladimir Nabokov’s letters to his wife of fifty-two years. As he puts it, “Companion, agent, live-in editor, bodyguard, and the dedicatee of almost all her husband’s books, Véra Nabokov, née Slonim, has reached a strange elevation in our cultural sky.”
“On the outside, she was immaculately poised, always elegantly dressed, with perfectly cut, silver hair; witty, brilliant company, properly opinionated, impatient with compromise or cant, what the book blurbs called ‘fiercely intelligent.’ But this came at a cost.” Jenny Diski‘s husband, the poet Ian Patterson, remembers his wife for The Guardian.
Karen Russell is everywhere these days. She’s sharing her favorite books about Florida with The New York Times, she’s being interviewed about her writing process on our site, and she’s publishing short fiction for Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading blog. Oh, and she has a new book out, too, as you might have heard.
Recommended Reading: “Ursula’s Curse,” an excerpt from a forthcoming Eugene Lim novel. The piece’s protagonist seems less concerned with the end of his life (and maybe the human race) than he is with remembering an artist who tried to reach “a limit to the art market’s baseness.”
Over at Full Stop, Scott Cheshire mulls the concept of Armageddon, or, as he calls it, “The Other American Dream.” Meanwhile, a French photography team is traveling the world to take pictures of cities “without signs of life.” Perhaps the fascination isn’t so American after all.