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.
After a Boston attorney banned the publication of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman set out to defend the book, arguing that the sex that earned the book censorship was an integral part of the experience he wanted to convey. In an essay for Salon, John Marsh examines Whitman’s defense in light of the content of his work, exploring the ways in which he upset Puritan mores. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on how Walt Whitman saved his life.
Recommended Reading: The selected letters of William S. Burroughs at The Paris Review Daily. Read his correspondences with family and writers Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer. Pair with Jonathan Clarke’s article on why an author’s biography will never be more important than their writing.
Apocalyptic literature is nothing new, but it may, according to Grayson Clary, be entering a new era. In Bookforum, he argues that Benjamin Percy’s The Dead Lands ushers the genre into its mannerist phase. Sample quote: “The Dead Lands is really the stripped, buffed skeleton of a road story, set up to show off—attractively—an enormous quantity of decorating tropes.” You could also read our interview with Percy.
Water coolers across the nation were abuzz this week with news of the James Cameron-backed and billionaire-led initiative to begin mining resources from the asteroid belt. It's the stuff of science fiction, and it may seem hard to believe, but the company's actually already begun hiring prospective space miners!
Recommended Reading: This interview at The Paris Review with poet Morgan Parker: "I think personal narrative is really important for the individual and for a collective and for a people. I think it’s important to have agency in that narrative. There’s so much about contemporary life where one story is written upon the person by the outside world, by circumstance."