“The purpose of being a serious writer is not to express oneself, and it is not to make something beautiful, though one might do those things anyway. Those things are beside the point. The purpose of being a serious writer is to keep people from despair. If you keep that in mind always, the wish to make something beautiful or smart looks slight and vain in comparison. If people read your work and, as a result, choose life, then you are doing your job.” Year in Reading alumna Sarah Manguso on envy and the purpose of writing. Pair with Jaime Green’s Millions review of Manguso’s Ongoingness.
Hat tip to Melville House’s Dustin Kurtz for sharing The Gates Notes with the world. Now you can read real book reviews written by America’s wealthiest man. That’s almost as good as reading real book reviews written by one of the world’s most powerful conservative fundraisers.
The Size Queens re-conceptualize the album with their release of To The Country, a hybrid iBook/album whose “interpenetrations of song, text, and image” aim to generate new narrative forms. Band member/author Adam Klein writes: “We create these imagined worlds together, simultaneously uncontaminated and corrupted, through metaphor and code. ‘The country’ and the new world of applications are always polyvalent; it is impossible to make them remain at our service.” Also! This textual/aural collaboration features original stories by Lynne Tillman, Rick Moody, Maria Bustillos, and Joy Williams (first line reads: “Daddy didn’t want to be a social being and he didn’t want us to be social beings so here we are.“) Download To The Country here (it’s free!) and read/listen/weep.
“Mixer publishing, with guest editor Paul Tremblay (author of Swallowing A Donkey’s Eye), is offering a $1,200 honorarium for the best speculative/sci-fi story, graphic narrative (comic), or poem.” The contest deadline is June 30th.
“In college, I didn’t realize I was the face of the Diaspora, the embodiment of all the women they thought I was, and who I knew I was. I was from Africa, east and west, a sojourner through the islands of the Caribbean, a daughter of the Second Great Migration of African-Americans from South to North. Perhaps Chaka said it best—to these young men, I was ‘every woman.’ To airport security, I was that woman. The one to be stopped and searched. The one who was suspect. A long-lost daughter whose lineage crossed through Kush—was I carrying Kush now, perhaps, in my hair?” If a ‘Pat-downs, Pissing, and Passport Stamps’ headline isn’t enough to get you to read this great piece from The Literary Hub, hopefully the quote will do.
In the latest issue of The Walrus, Casey Plett reads a number of books involving transgender people, critiquing several aspects of their depictions. Along with the essay, she provides a list of transgender novels everyone should read, including Nevada by Imogen Binnie and Wanting in Arabic by Trish Salah.
With sessions beginning this month, “The Dzanc Sessions are designed for writers who are ready to amplify, polish, and advance their writing. An eclectic platform of craft-based workshops are offered in a series of online sessions throughout the year, with specializations in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and screenwriting.” Signing up earns you a free print book or access to their eBook club.