“I’ve always loved memoir, but it’s still seen as such a trashy genre and I wanted to speak to it as actual literature because that’s how it feels to me.” Mary Karr sits down with The Rumpus to discuss The Art of Memoir. We recently posted an excerpt from and a review of the book.
Over at VICE, Karan Mahajan, Tanwi Nandini Islam, and Jenny Zhang talked about the new generation of Asian American writers. “There isn’t really a canon, which means if you are Asian American and writing, you’re automatically adding to it. Once I realized this, I became extremely protective of my writing,” said Zhang. Pair with this Millions interview with Mahajan.
It’s a question that puzzles writers of all stripes: why is so much academic writing so terrible? It’s an issue that’s been a lifelong head-scratcher for the linguist Steven Pinker, who set out to answer the question once and for all. His verdict? It has to do with the meaning of “literary style.”
“Writers are not often great lovers but pathological inventors of explanations. Sex induces a kind of cowardice in them, a fear of experimentation, of being vulnerable, of stepping naked onto the stage to examine all the presumptions that pass without question when everyone still has their pants on.” Michael Thomsen makes the case that dating writers is a bad idea.
“Our Aesthetic Categories, though, argues on behalf of aesthetic experiences that aren’t quite so awe-inspiring or rare. Sitting before your computers or walking the streets of your town, you don’t encounter beautiful things as frequently as you do interesting, momentarily arresting ones—and as for the sublime, when was the last time you experienced catharsis? Instead, [Sianne] Ngai considers our ‘minor’ aesthetic experiences, the ones that make up our day.” In the era of adorkable and nerd chic, Slate looks at Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting.
Bill Morris, clearly maneuvering for the title of Motor City Poet Laureate, follows up his piece on Detroit’s comeback with a vivid account of Lion legend Alex Karras. “Karras will always be a pink giant with a towel wrapped around his waist,” Morris writes.
“These conversations push Leonard outside his sister’s house and put him on a course complete with time travel, an unreadable ancient text, Jewish Mysticism, and an attractive reference librarian. And here’s where the trouble starts.” On Rachel Cantor’s A Highly Unlikely Scenario.