“First, humans domesticated the horse. Then, we invented analgesia for the horses while we got rid of God—eliminating pain while also eliminating pain’s previously greatest meaning. This made a lonely universe. We partially solved loneliness by inventing smartphones, but this also created our now endless distraction—which, fortunately, can be treated with Vyvanse.” Sasha Chapin for Hazlitt on his friend Rachel, who is living with a terminal illness.
Julia Fierro is a writer we’ve featured before, and her first novel Cutting Teeth was published last month. But as she explains in a new piece, there was a stretch of time when she didn’t write at all. “I was so cruel to myself, so impatient, beating myself up daily for not writing,” she says. “It took seven years worth of teaching… before I returned to writing with solid commitment. And when I did sit down in front of my computer, I was a better writer.”
Over at Salon, Joel Whitney explains how The Paris Review worked with the CIA and “served, in part, as a covert international weapon of soft power.” While the possibility is certainly tantalizing, it’s necessary to read Whitney’s article alongside Carolyn Kellogg’s piece in the LA Times, which notes how “the threads of the article … become unsupportably tenuous” as it carries on.
At Page-Turner, Willing Davidson interviews Karen Russell, the newly minted MacArthur Genius, Swamplandia! author and 20 Under 40 alum. The conclusion this writer came to after reading their back-and-forth? The phrases “luck lightning” and “King Doomsday” need to be used more often. (FYI, we published our own interview with Russell back in February.)
“My ear for the diction and rhythms of poetry was trained by — in chronological order — Dr. Seuss, Dylan Thomas, Walt Whitman, the guitar solos of Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix, and T.S. Eliot.” Author Denis Johnson has died at age 67, reports The Washington Post. Our own Sonya Chung recommended Johnson’s celebrated short story collection Jesus’ Son to a friend some years back, saying “I know it will knock him out. It does (of course).”