“I can’t remember another single work of art ever having had that immediate and powerful an impact, which of course makes the experience quite impossible to describe. As I experienced it, it drove me out of my wretched mind … I do know that I knew immediately that my sense of what science fiction could be had been permanently altered.” William Gibson on having his world rocked (and artistic sensibilities altered) by Chris Marker’s 1962 short film La Jetée.
New this week: All That Is by James Salter, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Woke Up Lonely by Fiona Maazel, The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner, The Mermaid of Brooklyn by Amy Shearn, The Odds Against Tomorrow by Nathaniel Rich, and Our Man in Iraq by Robert Perisic.
At The NYT Mag, Virginia Heffernan‘s “Drill, Baby, Drill” explores the possibility that drills and memorization might not be quite as oppressive as some of the kinder, gentler pedagogues of our time suggest and offers a list of aps to help aspiring rote learners (Nota Bene: VerseByHeart).
“[P]ublishing is a behemoth that is trudging along slowly in the direction of progress. But it still has a long way to go.” GQ editor and Year-in-Reading alum Kevin Nguyen gets the interview treatment from Poets & Writers (and gives a few shout-outs to us while he’s at it!). Among the books he’s read in the last year that stood out: “White Tears by Hari Kunzru by a mile.”
The work of Elvio Gandolfo, whose novel Cada vez más cerca (“Each Time Closer”) won Argentina’s equivalent of the Pulitzer in 2013, is rarely published in English. So it’s a special treat to find his magical story about a whale falling out of the sky, newly translated for the anthology A Thousand Forests in One Acorn, available free at Ninth Letter.
“Putin, like Hitler, understood that the purpose of spectacles is to dazzle the eye while clouding the mind.” For the Daily Beast, staff writer Bill Morris writes about the thuggish dictators who love the propaganda of the World Cup. (If you haven’t already checked out our list of seven great soccer reads, do it now!)
“It is difficult for them to understand why a successful black woman would choose to return to the South and, worse yet, to Mississippi, which looms large in the public’s imagination for its racist depredations, and rightfully so.” For Time magazine’s American South issue Jesmyn Ward writes about her decision to return home to Mississippi.