“I’ve come to understand that I’ll rarely experience that first rush of discovery again, and perhaps that’s the problem with re-reading. It reminds us both of where we’ve been and where we can’t go again.” Sarah Seltzer wonders why do we reread books as children but not as adults? Pair with Lisa Levy‘s essay on “The Pleasures and Perils of Rereading.”
“Mario purchased pickup trucks from which he removed panels and lights. The trick was packing the drugs in a part of the vehicle where the body wouldn’t lose its hollow sound when slapped.” These two sentences just got author Dan Slater‘s new book Wolf Boys banned from Texas prisons, inadvertently calling attention to Banned Books Week. Pair with two of our essays about controversial reads.
Now online: PEN World Voices video of Keith Gessen interviewing Vladimir Sorokin, author of the just-released Ice Trilogy and Day of the Oprichnik. I was a little nonplussed by the Times‘ decision to begin its profile of Sorokin with a discussion of his hair, but really…it is quite something. Come for the mane, stay for the acerbic insights.
“On my manhood rests a tattooed / portrait of Mr. President. / My beloved found that out after we wed. / She was utterly gutted, / Inconsolable.” Poet Maung Saungkha may have to prove in a Myanmar courtroom that he doesn’t have a tattoo of the nation’s president on his genitals.
Some world literature links: Sign and Sight offers the best introduction to Herta Müller I’ve been able to find…The Complete Review gets the ball rolling on Roberto Bolaño’s (very) early novel Monsieur Pain, forthcoming from New Directions…Ingo Schulze, author of the quietly astonishing New Lives and the forthcoming One More Story, talks to The Toronto Star (via)…The NBCC features Yu Hua‘s Brothers…Claudio Magris is crowned the king of Frankfurt…Maud Newton hails Juan Gabriel Vásquez‘s “inventive and intricately plotted” The Informers…The Brooklyn Rail and Transcript both offer handsome online digests of short stories from around the world.
In the latest issue of The Boston Review, Elaine Scarry reviews Steven Pinker’s
The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker argues that literature, by bolstering man’s empathy, has lead to huge reductions in worldwide violence, a thesis that sounds dangerously close to the absurd pop-science of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.