“Is the reason to have a home, as the narrator in Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, asserts, ‘to keep certain people in and everyone else out’? Or does home, as the narrator in William Maxwell’s autobiographical novel So Long, See You Tomorrow suggests, work primarily as a scaffolding of known things — as a place to read, a place to stash the damp umbrella, a place to listen to the porch swing creak?” Beth Kephart on the literary significance of home.
“How is the life of a creative person—an artist, a designer, a composer—related to his or her work?” The New Yorker lists 7 archived pieces by way of answer.
Kundiman, an organization dedicated to “the creation and cultivation of Asian American poetry,” is now accepting submissions for its annual Kundiman Poetry Prize. One winner will receive $1,000, book publication with Alice James Books, and a featured reading in New York City. The deadline is March 1, 2013.
Recommended Reading: This review, though it is really much more than that, of Daniel Williams’ Defenders of the Unborn. Williams’ book takes a detailed look at the history of anti-abortion activism before Roe v. Wade, but more generally it seeks to complicate our entire definition of activism in the context of the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
At The Chronicle of Higher Education, Rachel Toor channels George Orwell, immortal champion of good writing in English, to help young scholars avoid the ghastly prose style that dominates contemporary academic writing.
“On my manhood rests a tattooed / portrait of Mr. President. / My beloved found that out after we wed. / She was utterly gutted, / Inconsolable.” Poet Maung Saungkha may have to prove in a Myanmar courtroom that he doesn’t have a tattoo of the nation’s president on his genitals.
In the Times Book Review, Year in Reading alum and Edinburgh author Alexander Chee reviews Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, a Millions contributor. He describes the book as, among other things, a departure from your average literary thriller: “If we know this story, we haven’t seen it yet in American fiction, not until now.”