Recommended Reading: this moving piece from Andrew Higgins at The Rumpus on admissions of guilt.
“He believed it a privilege and a shame that his race and nationality gave him the chance to come and go from lands where a guillotine blade seemed to dangle forever over the local citizens.” Denis Johnson‘s longtime Esquire editor Will Blythe pens a remembrance of the writer for The New York Times. See also: our own Sonya Chung‘s recommendation of Johnson’s celebrated short story collection Jesus’ Son to a friend some years back. “I know it will knock him out,” she wrote. “It does (of course).”
In 2010, the poet Tarfia Faizullah traveled to Bangladesh to speak with the survivors of the 1971 Liberation War. Eventually, she wrote a poetry collection about those interviews, which went on to win the Crab Orchard Series First Book Award. At The Paris Review Daily, Sean Carman interviews Faizullah.
“I’ve learned that people—writers and non-writers alike—don’t like that word. Failure…. I take a bizarre pleasure, now, in using that word. Maybe because during my decade as a failed writer, the one thing that took the edge off was wallowing in that failure—carefully, in a proscribed fashion, like having a drink when you’re still hungover.” Stephanie Feldman writes for Vol. 1 Brooklyn about being a literary failure, about the two books she wrote and never published, and about the one she finally did. Pair with the stories of these 5 writers and their failed “novels in drawers.”
To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless book, but until now it’s only been in the dated medium of print. However, Harper Lee announced that she is allowing her novel to become an ebook and digital audiobook. “I’m still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries. I am amazed and humbled that Mockingbird has survived this long. This is Mockingbird for a new generation.”
“Many black parents tell black children to strive; to seize opportunities that will enable upward mobility. However, they also give their children a poison capable of eroding black children’s innocence. They tell them to be twice as good; that there is no room for failure or mistakes.” Nicole Dennis-Benn, author of Here Comes the Sun, writes about how black children are denied the privilege of innocence.
At 3 Quarks Daily, Akeel Bilgrami’s essay on the pleasures of literature: “To understand what is special about literature is not to delegate the emotions to literature while retaining thought for philosophy and science. The idea is to find in the distinctly expressive function of literature, a refusal of that tired dualism.” (via Book Bench)