“Wallace’s fiction contains enormous cruelty… But it is also a deeply moral body of work. Its difficulties, and many of its cruelties, exist for specific reasons. Whether Wallace’s fraught projects are successes or failures is up to the individual, but these are judgments that all serious readers should want to make for themselves.” Chris Power considers David Foster Wallace‘s short stories in an essay for The Guardian and argues that after Infinite Jest they just might be the most important work he produced.
In 1913, four years before the Russian Revolution, Tsar Nicholas II made the now-baffling claim that a writer named Teffi was the only major Russian writer. At the time, however, his endorsement made sense, because everybody in Russia, from royalty on down, read Teffi’s work and “delighted” in it. Until the revolution, at which point she was consigned to oblivion. William Grimes writes about a new collection of her stories.
“There’s no doubt that Life A User’s Manual takes an approach to depicting reality that is very different from the standard realist novel, which we have been conditioned to believe is the best and most-preferred way of representing our world…Though not without its enlightening aspects, this conversation has generally fallen into a simplistic dichotomy, where realist writing is described as giving us the real world of everyday life, and anything other than realist writing is seen as directing its energies toward a vague something that no one cares to define very well.” A look at Oulipo and its legacy from Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito, who recently wrote an Oulipo-themed Year in Reading for us.
Riffing on R&B singer Ernie K-Doe’s one-time statement, Chris Rose writes in the Oxford American, “I’m almost positive that all music, at least all American music, comes from Louisiana.” The essay appears in this year’s OA Southern Music Issue, a reliably excellent source of tunes and writing. Indeed, as Dwight Garner put it in The New York Times, the CDs that accompany each annual issue “practically belong in the Smithsonian.”
Chloe N. Clark writes about magical reveals in fiction. As she explains it, “authors, like magicians, need to know when the best moment to pull back the curtain is.” Pair with this Millions essay on using light and a full palette of color to paint fiction.