Recommended reading: Year in Reading alum Leslie Jamison writes about the pleasures and “democratic awe” of Whitman‘s Specimen Days. Pair with our own Michael Bourne‘s “Embracing the Other I Am: or, How Walt Whitman Saved My Life.”
You should check out George Saunders’s “Liner Notes” piece about “2776: A Musical Journey Through America’s Past, Present & Future,” which is set to accompany a forthcoming musical-comedy album from Patton Oswalt, Aubrey Plaza, Ira Glass, and Yo La Tengo, among others. If that hasn’t sold you, consider the fact that Saunders’s piece contains this line: “Truth be told, there were a number of regrettable omissions. Beyoncé and Jay Z’s piece ‘Bomber’ had to be left off the album. (‘Driver of this plane, this / B-52 on the way to Nagasaki / Stuff your ears with cotton and / Close those eyes / Me and my man are about to do it all over this / Here bomb’).”
Writer Manjula Martin has been a stock girl, used bookseller, seamstress, waitress, retailer, Girl Friday- just to name a few of her day jobs. She questions the value of the artist’s day job in her VQR post. “Why are writers so eager to leave work behind?” she writes.
Recommended Reading: On Chuck Tingle, self-published writer of gay erotica, who beat the notorious Sad Puppies at their own game: "Question: If you could pick a single writer to make an effective, compassionate statement about identity politics to a divided literary community, who would you pick? Would it be a schizophrenic, autistic person who’d authored an e-book called Space Raptor Butt Invasion?"
How do you write an accurate memoir without perpetuating stereotypes? Jesmyn Ward struggled with this when writing about absent black fathers and husbands in her book Men We Reaped. "I also had to figure out how much of the truth do I tell, how do I make the truth as balanced as I possibly can? How do I make these people as complicated and as human and as unique and as multifaceted as I possibly can? For me, that was the way I attempted to counteract some of that criticism," she told The Rumpus.
“On the level of narrative possibility, I was really drawn to the sense of aloneness that rose from so many of these images—the terrifying possibility of being the last person left on earth, or even the last person left in a neighborhood, a swamp, a freeway. That stark haunting irony of living in a world of excess that has eventually collapsed on itself, emptied out.” Guernica interviews Leslie Jamison and Ryan Spencer for their new collaboration, Such Mean Estate.
"New York: Ana and Christian explore bondage in the back of a New York City taxi cab. The driver confuses Ana’s safe word for their destination and mistakenly drops them off at the 'Guggenheim.'" At The Morning News, Sean Tabb imagines how Fifty Shades of Grey could be adapted for every state.