“An artist you love occupies a weird in-between place, where they’re somehow a little more than a father, but a little less than a neighbour. They can permanently re-organize your consciousness but they can’t sell you a Coke. You feel you know them more than anyone you actually know, which means that you don’t really know a damn thing. I feel I know Elliott Smith, but if I picture him in front of me, I find myself picturing a tiny figurine, or Mount Rushmore.” Sasha Chapin has written an intensely personal essay about Elliott Smith for Hazlitt. Here is The Millions’ own Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.
Flip through the blurbs on a recently published novel and you’re likely to come across a ton of stock phrases. Gary Shteyngart parodied this repetition -- as well as other facets of the blurb-industrial complex -- in a bit of improv last year. At The Morning News, Christine Gosnay writes about a poem that gave her a genuinely new reaction: the sense that she was "more than one person.”
“Make no mistake: if you run a prize, a “best of” list, a residency, with age guidelines you can’t fully justify then, however otherwise diverse your awardees, you and your organisation are consolidating racism, sexism, class and gender discrimination.” Joanna Walsh for The Guardian arguing that, by focusing on youth, literary awards and honors tend to reward “those most likely to have money, security, contacts, confidence.” See also our Post-40 Bloomers series, including interviews most recently with Lidia Yuknavitch and Cole Lavalais.