“She was to me and so many poets an exemplary and inimitable figure. And I mean to emphasize the tension between ‘exemplary’ and ‘inimitable’—what her example taught us was the necessity of going our own way, of being one with others.” Ben Lerner remembers C.D. Wright, who passed away earlier this week.
Readers of The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature most likely have a good idea of just how much the late Norman Mailer was a wellspring of jokes about writers. The pugilistic novelist, journalist and failed mayoral candidate did choose to title a collection of his work Advertisements for Myself, after all. Yet as Andrew O’Hagan notes in the LRB, it's hard not to admire the cojones on a guy who once told a prominent editor he was “still too young and too arrogant to care to write the kind of high-grade horseshit you print in Harper’s Bazaar."
“His books are not only obviously produced by an obsessive film buff (as evidenced by one wry recurring trick, the dates in brackets that follow even citations of celluloid ephemera), they often seem to want to be movies, as shown by another signature device, the way his protagonists – from the 1890s European spies and 1950s New Yorkers in the interwoven narratives of his debut, V. in 1963, all the way to Inherent Vice and Bleeding Edge in 2013 – break anti-naturalistically into song like characters in musicals.” An argument that Thomas Pynchon writes fiction tailor-made for the cinema.
"Macbeth has a twist that sets it apart from every other Shakespearean tragedy: Macbeth murders his voice. Mad with fear that Banquo’s heirs will seize the throne, Macbeth has Banquo killed. After that, our antihero is on his own. There is no one left to verify what is real and what is not ... When Macbeth’s voice dies, everything else disappears, too. Macbeth is alone." This excerpt from Jillian Keenan's Sex With Shakespeare touches on everything from sexuality in Singapore to The O.C. fan-fiction.
Proclaiming the death of the book has been in vogue nearly as long as the book itself. Leah Price presents a short history of our pessimism for the future of the written word.
“In the six years that I wrote the book, I moved around a huge amount. I was in five or six different states, and spent a lot of time on the road. I think if you’re out in this country so much, you just see a lot of weird stuff. Weird, ominous stuff.” Talking with Laura van den Berg.