“The call isn’t for a literature to, as Ta-Nehisi Coates has described, stop people from hitting us. […] But for a multiplicity of presence. A mingling, if not an acceptance, of a duality of presence. The right to be average. For the black guys in our literary fiction, if nowhere else, to be given the benefit of the doubt.” Over at the Ploughshares blog, Bryan Washington makes a case for inclusion in literary fiction.
Kurt Vonnegut famously wrote that all semicolons do is “show you’ve been to college.” What to make, then of The Lonely Island’s raunchy new song about their favorite punctuation mark? (For the record: Jorma Taccone attended UCLA; Akiva Schaffer attended UC-Santa Cruz; and Andy Samberg attended UC-Santa Cruz and NYU.)
Scientists confirmed recently that writers are more likely to struggle with mental illness (sometimes, as recently noted, due to syphilis). Since we’re so used to our alcoholic literary greats, and a smattering of suicidal ones (Plath, Woolf, Thompson, Wallace–and many more), this comes as no great surprise. On a happier note, a new study using fMRIs and MFA students has found that writers show different brain patterns than “normal people” just writing: in fact they resemble “expert” thinking patterns of all professionals doing what they’re best at–musicians, athletes, competitive Scrabble players. I don’t know if I’m happier to learn the fMRIs found no gaping black holes, or that MFAs do in fact teach you something.
Fellow children of the ‘90s will remember how much that decade was a kind of Golden Age for disaster movies. Then as now, explosive blockbusters like Independence Day, Twister and Dante’s Peak satisfied a collective appetite for wide-scale destruction and mayhem. At The Morning News, Ethan Gilsdorf considers what the genre’s evolution has to say about us.
“There is something terrifying but also fascinating about contemplating the end of humanity,” and on Oct. 25th our own Edan Lepucki and Emily St. John Mandel (whose novel Station Eleven was just shortlisted for the National Book Award) will be discussing their recent apocalyptic fictions at the Texas Book Festival.
The recently (and controversially) appointed poet laureate of North Carolina has resigned from the post, but the upset generated by her short-lived laureateship can be interpreted as a sign of just how important poet laureates are. If you’re unconvinced, or simply confused about what exactly poet laureates do, we have just the links for you.
How would you respond if someone asked you, “If you walk into a liquor store to count the unsold bottles, but the clerk is screaming at you to leave, what do you do?” during a job interview? At The Morning News, Giles Turnbull tried to answer the weirdest job interview questions. His answer to the question: “What in the name of God would I be doing counting unsold bottles in a liquor store? Are you trying to fuck with my mind?”