“One of the joys of literature is that we can always push back against established ways of speaking and seeing—and nothing has to be blown up.” Mark Z. Danielewski, whose latest novel, the first installment of a 27-book series called The Familiar, has just been released, writes for The Atlantic‘s “By Heart” series about “signiconic” writing, the orneriness of his work and the graphic novel Here. Pair with our 2012 interview with Danielewski.
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”
After visiting more than 2,000 of America’s independent bookstores, Kate Brittain found herself thinking their demise might not be so inevitable. The cards, she writes, remain stacked against them, but they nonetheless offer a few things that may well keep them in demand. Pair with: our tribute to e-book pioneer Michael Hartt.
Over at Slate, Mike Vuolo speaks with Bob Garfield about “African-American English,” or, as some might say, “Ebonics.” The two of them explore its history, misconceptions, and whether or not it’s possible or even appropriate for a white writer (such as The Help author Kathryn Stockett) to attempt to write in the dialect of certain African-Americans.
Franz Kafka’s birthday was a couple of days ago — the celebration (which would surely have been a subdued affair) would have been his 133rd. Celebrate yourself by taking look at this helpful animation which explains the woefully misused term “Kafkaesque.”