“Blackness in the white imagination has nothing to do with black people.” Claudia Rankine, author of Citizen: An American Lyric, is interviewed over at The Guardian on everything from Serena Williams to her emotionally volatile book signings to the inescapability of racism.
In a piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jonathan Farmer responds to the recent pieces in the New York Times that ask poets to debate the question “does poetry matter?” As Farmer points out, ” it’s a bit like asking a bunch of religious figures if religion matters,” but the conversation is worth following and pairs well with our own recent pieces on poetry’s power and popularity.
“This year wasn’t short on the best kind of book: the type that polarizes opinion.” The New Republic reviews the most divisive books of the year. Included is our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire. Check out opening lines from the story and an interview with the author.
In her new book, Hard-Core Romance, Eva Illouz has published the first serious, book-length academic analysis of the Fifty Shades of Grey. The critically-panned Fifty Shades trilogy, originally a Twilight fan fiction, has sold 32 million copies in the US so far. At The New Republic, William Giraldi seizes the opportunity for a brutal send-up of author E. L. James and the “dreck” she represents. “At least people are reading,” he writes, “You’ve no doubt heard that before. But we don’t say of the diabetic obese, At least people are eating.” Pair with The Millions’ essay on literary predecessors in published fan fiction.
“I slumped into an empty corner opposite Say Goodbye, Cattullus and wept into my knees for a half hour.” Catherine Lacey writes for The Paris Review‘s “Revisited” series, “in which writers look back on a work of art they first encountered long ago.” Pair with our own Bill Morris‘s consideration of artists whose works channel writers.