“We have documented cases of at least 47 writers and journalists currently imprisoned in China. The average sentence for a writer is eight years in prison, and some sentences are even harsher.” PEN American Writers send a letter to Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, in response to his visit to the U.S. We have a few pieces about censorship to pair with it.
“A dark and insane fantasy about the players large and small who populated our post-9/11 landscape, it’s not just the book we’ve maybe wanted but possibly the book we’ve needed — a strange lens to help us understand who we were, what we’ve done and who we may yet become.” Nathan Deuel reviews Mark Doten‘s The Infernal (which Adam Fleming Petty reviewed for the Millions here) for the LA Times.
“It’s like a massive piece of denim, and with that denim you can make something really cool. You can make a jacket, you can make some cool jeans, or you can make a cushion or a cover.” When The New York Times decides it wants to define “punk,” you’d better get ready for some cringe-worthy responses. Here’s a Millions piece on Viv Albertine, author of Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys and no stranger to punk rock.
Recommended listening: 19 Rare Recordings of Famous Authors Reading, as compiled by Mental Floss, including the likes of Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, Ernest Hemingway and Flannery O’Connor. For a different perspective on the word “rare” as applied to digital culture, be sure to read Rex Sorgatz‘s recent piece for Medium, “You Need to Hear this Extremely Rare Recording.”
If I had been near enough to a computer and had enough time to blog over the last month, I probably would have talked about Nicholson Baker’s new book, Checkpoint. I haven’t read it, so I can only comment on the reactions that I have seen to the book. Most have been negative. The book is about two friends who are sitting in a hotel room having a conversation. One character wants to assassinate President George W. Bush, the other is trying to talk him out of it. The subject matter alone seems to come from a desire to create controversy, and though Baker and his publisher have gone out of their way to condemn violence, Baker has said that he was motivated by his own personal anger to write the book. If you ask me, controversial subject matter + short book (115 pages in this case) + rush to press = literary publicity stunt, and many, including the New York Times agree.Readers of fiction looking for a weekly dose and writers of fiction looking for an audience should check out Weekly Reader, a little website that delivers a story to your inbox every week.Poaching two great links from Arts & Letters Daily: Jonathan Yardley loves Hunter S. Thompson’s new collection of pieces from ESPN.com’s page 2, Hey Rube; and Tibor Fischer discusses the current slate of Booker hopefuls.