“The short story is an odd form, forever dying out or undergoing a revival, impossible to define, sometimes seeming to be united by being nothing more than a text which happens to occupy around thirty pages or less: novels for people who can’t be arsed reading novels. Yet the best stories in both of these books show what the form is capable of: the world reflected in a puddle, the light gleaming for an instant, fireflies.” C.D. Rose reviews New American Stories, edited by Ben Marcus, for 3:AM Magazine.
“The most, the best, we can do, we believe (wanting to give evidence of love), is to get out of the way, leave space around whomever or whatever it is.” This excerpt from John Cage’s journals, forthcoming as Diary: How to Improve the World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse), is as baffling as it is beautiful.
I didn’t expect to find a Chinese poem more ornate than Su Hui’s palindromic, pre-oulipan “Xuanji Tu,” but apparently I underestimated myself. Here’s “Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den,” a 92-character poem by Yuen Ren Chao which relies on the tonal variations of a single sound (shi) to tell the story of a “lion addict” with a taste for big cats. For a really crazy experience, I recommend listening to the poem being read aloud.
“Shouldn’t we all feel a little embarrassed about the fuss we made over 50 Shades of Grey?” Jessa Crispin writes for the Los Angeles Review of Books about E.L. James’ trilogy and some of the longer responses, including Hard-Core Romance, which we briefly covered a few months ago.
You may have heard that Glenn Beck, sower of anxiety about Obamanomics, is also a shill for gold coin dealer Goldline. But here’s a conspiracy theory for you: Does Glenn Beck also have a stake in the modish French theoretical organ Semiotext(e)? The truth is out there, people.
“‘Oh,’ she said, ‘a lot of dogs don’t like black people but they’re fine with everyone else.’ … Was this just a workplace microaggression, or are these dogs actually racist? I found myself grappling with the idea that not only do actual humans hate me for being black; dogs could also hate me for reasons that are out of my control.” Kelly Mays McDonald on how we have weaponized dogs in The Awl.
What inspired Wally Lamb’s latest novel, We Are Water? Part of it came from his experience teaching writing at a women’s prison in Connecticut for the past 14 years. He spoke to The Missouri Review about what it’s like to teach “the incarcerated wounded” and how they have influenced his work. “With my fiction, I’ve never been afraid to go to the dark places, but I think the women have made me more daring.”