Over at The Paris Review, Hannah Tennant-Moore defends the merits of disturbing literature. We are fascinated with the disturbing, because, as Tennant-Moore asserts, “wonder, disgust: both feelings are true.” Here’s a bonus piece on A.M. Homes‘ darkly comic May We Be Forgiven and on comforting the disturbed — or is it disturbing the comforted?
John Steinbeck’s son criticizes the state of Texas for invoking Of Mice and Men‘s Lennie Small, in ruling that certain mentally retarded individuals can be sentenced to the death penalty. The great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville wonders where her great-great-great-grandfather’s editor was when he wrote Moby Dick.
“I grew up hearing my father digging into words for images that will stretch the limits of life for my siblings and me. In my father’s mouth, bitter, rigid words become sweet and elastic like taffy candy. His poetry shields us from the poverty of our lives.” Kao Kalia Yang for The Literary Hub on learning to understand her blue-collar father as a legitimate literary force.
“You want to know who I am? If I wanted to have anything written on my tombstone, I would have, ‘Ask my children or ask my students.’ I actually never thought of it quite that way. That wouldn’t be a bad epitaph.” An excerpt from Studs Terkel‘s oral history of death, Will The Circle Be Unbroken?: Reflections on Death, Rebirth, and Hunger for a Faith, is now available online.
Ever want to watch someone write a novel? Nows your chance. Sorta. Silvia Hartmann, UK author of thriller novels, is inviting readers to observe as she types up her next novel in a Google doc.
If you’re in need of a great read this week, you’ll be glad to know that Byliner has compiled a list of 101 spectacular nonfiction stories from 2011. They run the gamut from investigative to personal to borderline trivial: There’s Mac McClelland’s incredibly daring and disturbing essay on working through PTSD through controlled sexual violence, alongside Jon Mooallem’s history of the high five. Happy reading!