“Russian humor is to ordinary humor what backwoods fundamentalist poisonous snake handling is to a petting zoo. Russian humor is slapstick, only you actually die.” Ian Frazier writes about the strange humor of Daniil Kharms for the New York Review of Books.
Emily Dickinson wrote her poetry in a house in Amherst. Mark Twain wrote many of his best works on his estate in Connecticut. And Geoffrey Chaucer, it turns out, wrote in a cramped bachelor pad, nestled in the east side of the wall surrounding London. In The Spectator, a reading of Paul Strohm’s Chaucer’s Tale, which describes a pivotal year in the poet's life.
"You could say that Fancy is about a couple of comical old kooks stuck in a dismal town finding creative ways of making themselves (and some luckless bystanders) crazy … and you wouldn’t be wrong. But you could also say that it’s the story of the composition of the manifesto of a bizarre and protean (protozoan?) order of being in which we’re all just patterns mistaking ourselves for people." In a piece for BOMB Magazine, Scott Esposito interviews Jeremy M. Davies about Bernhard, Olive Garden, writing Fancy and reintroducing humor into modernist literature. Their conversation pairs well with our own Nick Ripatrazone's look at, well, the conversations of BOMB interviews.
“Love / is the only fortress / strong enough to trust to.” Mary-Kay Wilmers for the London Review of Books reviews Holding On Upside Down: The Life and Work of Marianne Moore. In the book, Moore’s slightly-bizarre domestic life is examined with fairness and honesty alongside her impressive body of work. If poetry is your thing, check out our On Poetry column for more.
Last week I asked "What about J.T. Leroy?" I was wondering when the Leroy hoaxers were going to come forward. Now, one of them has. Warren St. John of the New York Times got Geoffrey Knoop to come clean on the record. Knoop also said that he didn't think Laura Albert, who wrote the Leroy books, would ever come forward: "'For her, it's very personal,' he said. 'It's not a hoax. It's a part of her.'"Meanwhile, PopMatters put together a special section about Leroy and James Frey. I enjoyed The Rake's related comments on why Frey can't hold a candle to Charles Bukowski.I saw Brokeback Mountain a few days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. In an excerpt from Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay, Annie Proulx describes what it was like seeing her story on the screen: "I felt that, just as the ancient Egyptians had removed a corpse's brain through the nostril with a slender hook before mummification, the cast and crew of this film, from the director down, had gotten into my mind and pulled out images." (via Maud)This Boston Globe column articulates quite precisely how I feel about the strife surrounding the cartoons of Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper.
It has become increasingly common for publications to charge a fee upon submitting work. According to The Atlantic, this practice spells disaster for the writing community at every level. Quit paying out to big journals and just charge yourself the fee instead–here’s a piece on the efficacy of self-publishing.