Novels that focus on obsessive characters hinge on persnickety details. The need to depict accurately the mind of an obsessive demands that the novelist overemphasize the trifling and tangential. In The Kenyon Review, Vanessa Blakeslee reviews a new and representative example of the form, The Understory by Pamela Erens. Sample quote: “When the smaller steps of daily life are magnified, does that narrative reach its greatest potential for a unified and powerful resonance?” FYI, Erens has written for us.
When all is said and done, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series will consist of six published volumes. In light of the overwhelmingly positive reception for the epic Norwegian books – which have garnered heaps of praise around these parts – Archipelago Books is raising money to produce a special, hardcover edition of each installment.
"You want to know who I am? If I wanted to have anything written on my tombstone, I would have, 'Ask my children or ask my students.' I actually never thought of it quite that way. That wouldn’t be a bad epitaph." An excerpt from Studs Terkel's oral history of death, Will The Circle Be Unbroken?: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, is now available online.
Somewhere along the way, the word "cool" became "the most popular slang term of approval in English." Humanities has a pretty cool (hip, rad, dope, groovy, punk, hot, sweet) theory, tracing it as far back as Zora Neale Hurston's collection Mules and Men, and the time when "cool was black... cool was jazz." (Related reading: the most excellent Hepster's Dictionary (pdf) of 1939 jive talk, and our own history of the slang word "like.")