Recommended reading: Tim Parks asks “what is the social function of the novel?“
“Their staff is always sharp, and they seem to cover politics more robustly now. But through the 1960s there were so many political trends they ignored, pretending to be focused on craft and art for art’s sake.” An interview with Joel Whitney about his forthcoming book Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers, which tells the story of how the intelligence agency helped found The Paris Review. With this backstory in mind, you may read the journal’s author interviews in an entirely new way.
Etgar Keret is busy these days. Aside from publishing a story about the ongoing Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and aside from promoting stories for Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading blog, he also has time to commission novelty houses in Warsaw. At 133 cm (or ~4.3 feet) wide, the Keret House is, in my opinion, the stuff of nightmares. (Scroll along the page banner for more pictures.)
“It is a sad irony that the snake’s rattle, which functions as a warning device, is widely regarded as a bellicose drumroll, or war-cry, instead. It may well have been in a mood of remorse for having killed a rattlesnake on impulse that [William] Bartram, vowing solemnly that he ‘would never again be accessory to the death of a rattle snake,’ painted his marvelous portrait of a coiled rattler.” Christopher Benfey on Rattlesnake Island, a sanctuary set up to protect the woodland serpents from their greatest danger — us.
Anyone who’s majored in the humanities has likely heard warnings that it’s better to major in the sciences. If, as many would have it, we live in a scientist’s world, what place is there for the arts? At the Ploughshares blog, Cathe Shubert finds a place for writers in a STEM-obsessed society. You could also read Cathy Day on the job prospects of writers.
How did Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean create one of DC’s most popular comics in history? The Guardian finds out the inspiration behind The Sandman. McKean shares the stories behind his favorite covers, and Gaiman also addresses his resemblance to Dream. “I suppose he looks like me, though. But that’s one of those peculiar things where you gradually start to look like your dog.”