“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.
“By now, you are probably asking yourself, Did these two ever talk about anything serious? Of course, we did. We talked about how writing a poem is no different from taking out a frying pan and concocting a dish out of the ingredients available in the house, how in poetry, as in cooking, it’s all a matter of subtle little touches that come from long experience or are the result of sudden inspiration.” Charles Simic writes movingly about his friend, the late poet Mark Strand, and their various schemes, from buying palazzos to founding a gastronomic poetry movement, for The New York Review of Books.
“This year wasn’t short on the best kind of book: the type that polarizes opinion.” The New Republic reviews the most divisive books of the year. Included is our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s City on Fire. Check out opening lines from the story and an interview with the author.
Let’s take a moment to be jealous of other countries, shall we? In Iceland, “one in ten [residents] will publish something in their lifetime.” Norway’s government “buys 1,000 copies of every book a Norwegian author publishes. It provides a $19,000 annual subsidy to every author.” In Argentina, “the city of Buenos Aires now gives pensions to published writers.”
“I have always had faith that the best writers will rise to the top, like cream, sooner or later, and will become exactly as well known as they should be—their work talked about, quoted, taught, performed, filmed, set to music, anthologized. Perhaps, with the present collection, Lucia Berlin will begin to gain the attention she deserves.” An excerpt from Lydia Davis‘s foreword to Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories is now online.
Sex ed for teenagers is a famously knotty subject, which explains why Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s ombudsman, wants to eschew sex ed classes in favor of literature courses. “It is unacceptable to allow things that could corrupt children,” he said in a television interview. “The best sex education that exists is Russian literature.” (No word yet on what he thinks of Crime and Punishment.) (h/t The Paris Review)