Francois Vincent of McSweeney’s has published his hilarious take on asking for directions in short stories. Pair with this list of forty-five of The Millions’s favorite short story collections of all time.
Among Haruki Murakami’s many significant literary achievements is the fact that the author has – since the 1990s – become “responsible for triggering and fueling the Japanese literature boom in South Korea.” Indeed, by “creat[ing] bonds of shared emotions and literary sensibilities among tens of millions of people with different cultural and historical backgrounds,” writes Yoon Sang-In, “Murakami’s literary works have emerged as a great cultural asset that contributes to stability in [the East Asian] region.” (Bonus: Murakami’s latest book – which will be published in the States in 2014 – is flying off the shelves in Japan.)
Putting aside for a moment the racist phrenological roots of the terms “highbrow” and “lowbrow,” here’s an interesting conversation on what the difference between them means for literature now. For a historical take, check out this graphic from a 1949 edition of LIFE magazine, which taught me a real gentleman wears fuzzy tweed, and iceberg lettuce is never in style.
Out this week: Thus Bad Begins by Javier Marías; Fish in Exile by Vi Khi Nao; Virgin and Other Stories by April Ayers Lawson; Valiant Gentleman by Sabina Murray; Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce; Faithful by Alice Hoffman; and Commotion of the Birds by John Ashbery. For more on these and other new titles, go read our latest fiction and nonfiction book previews.
Though no big name today, early 20th-century poet Florence Ripley Mastin published prolifically in her lifetime – a dozen times in Poetry, more than 90 in the New York Times. Poetry’s Ruth Graham argues that the successes of Mastin, an untrained amateur, say more about her times than her talent. These days, amateur poets today benefit from refrigerator poetry sets, numerous poetry apps and sites, and the infinite community of the internet, but the Times has long excised poetry from its pages. In the archives, Patrick Wensink meets and analyzes those who doggedly pursue poetry these faded days.