“If I have a critique of American letters, it’s that the average American doesn’t read broadly enough, not enough work in translation, that we’re too isolated, too narrow in our reading habits, still too locked into boxes like the one built out of white male heteronormativity.” M. Bartley Seigel, outgoing co-editor of PANK Magazine, on his impressions of American literature. Pair with our piece on the submission processes at literary magazines.
Read Karl Ove Knausgaard’s acceptance speech for the Welt Literaturpreis, an annual prize awarded by the German newspaper Die Welt, at The New Yorker. He writes, “The difference between engaging with a real neighbor and one in a novel is that the former occurs in the social sphere, within the boundaries of its rules and practical constraints, whereas the latter occurs outside of it, in the reader’s own most private, intimate sphere, where the rules that govern our social interaction do not apply and its practical constraints do not exist.” You could also check out Knausgaard’s book excerpt at The Millions.
When The Counselor (trailer here) opens in theaters this month, the occasion will mark a career milestone for Cormac McCarthy. The 80-year-old novelist has been writing original screenplays since the 1970s, but only one of them – a made-for-TV movie called The Gardener’s Son – was produced before this latest effort. Over at The Wall Street Journal, Alexandra Alter takes a look at the author’s involvement in the production of The Counselor, as well as its reception by several film industry insiders and devout McCarthy fans. (“McCarthy writing a sex scene is maybe not a great idea,” one of them says.)
“You are what you brought from your country? Or you are what you learned here?” The New York Times visits Librería Barco de Papel, one of New York City’s last remaining Spanish-language bookstores. The space also operates as a community and cultural center for the Jackson Heights neighborhood, where roughly half of the 67,000 residents identify as Latino. If you want to feel some more feelings about the state of independent bookstores, check out this old Millions piece about paving paradise and putting up a Chipotle.
“The internet teems with writerly advice, almost all of which suggests that creativity is served best by monasticism, a quiet life filled with pencils—but that kind of advice seems to take a very short view of history, overlooking the one classic way to rouse the capricious Muses: sexually transmitted disease.” According to The Hairpin, maybe it’s not an MFA you need, just syphilis. After all, it seems to have worked for James Joyce, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Oscar Wilde and many, many others.
Calling a book “the spiritual prequel to The Road” is a great way to signal its command of dystopian tropes. It’s what Gabe Durham wrote about Maxwell Neely-Cohen’s recent YA novel Echo of the Boom. At The Rumpus, Durham interviews Neely-Cohen, who describes how he tried to give a metafictional bent to the novel. Related: we asked high school students to pick their favorite YA books of 2013.