It can be hard for critics to strike a balance between high theory and accessible prose. For James Wood, the key is to retain enough theoretical knowledge to come up with an insightful point, while still retaining the ability to write in a natural dialect. In The Guardian, he talks about his own relationship with books.
“Dear publisher, I am sorry if I do so few of these stories justice. Someone else surely will. I don’t know what justice for a book is but I think I saw it as I prayed over this one.” Matthew Jakubowski reviews Diane Williams’ latest collection Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine at Minor Literature[s]. You could also read his reviews of Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s Fra Keeler and Margriet de Moor’s The Storm at The Millions.
“Baldwin understood that if you are going to say something important about the world it is best if you try to say it beautifully. I don’t mean like picking flowers or writing on fancy stationery. I mean how you say it actually makes it a more meaningful piece of writing. I am going to push that further. It makes it a truer piece of writing. What you are saying is: ‘Can I make somebody feel this in a deeper way?’ That was what I was obsessed with.” Over at The Guardian, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about the success of Between the World and Me and being inspired by his father. Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s essay on David Brooks and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
There was a time, believe it or not, when poets made appearances on widely-seen American talk shows. That time was the fifties and sixties, when Carl Sandburg appeared on The Today Show, The Ed Sullivan Show and Edward R. Murrow’s See It Now. (He also gave a speech before Congress and competed on What’s My Line?)
“A neck cannot be modern. A neck is in time, belongs to time, but is not formed by it. My guess is that even photos of Neanderthal necks would not differ significantly… [They are] in a certain sense, pure nature. Something that grows in a certain place, the way tree trunks grow, or mussels, fungi, moss.” Recommended reading: Karl Ove Knausgaard on the sanctity of bodies, the nature of truth, and the back of the neck. The third volume of Knausgaard’s bestselling My Struggle hit American bookshelves last week. (Check out our own review of Knausgaard’s previous volumes.)
Guernica’s latest issue is devoted to the American South. As the issue’s introduction states, “The American South is at once a geographical distinction and a bright spot in the imagination, where burden vies with birthright, and where ignorance and renaissance exist side by side.” The issue features a Kiese Laymon essay on inequality and language, Ed Winstead on the Southern accent in writing, an interview with Jesmyn Ward, fiction, and more.