“In Saigon I always went to sleep stoned so I always lost my dreams, probably just as well, sock in deep and dim under that information and get whatever rest you could, wake up tapped of all images but the one remembered from the day before, with only the taste of a bad dream in your mouth like you’d been chewing on a roll of dirty old pennies in your sleep.” The 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time series over at The Guardian soldiers on with its ninth pick, Michael Herr’s Dispatches.
First our own Mark O’Connell pondered the relationship between listicles and our shrinking attention spans for The New Yorker, and now Arika Okrent suggests that a listicle is its own literary form – albeit a “gloriously unspecified” form, at that. Together, these pieces constitute 2 Meditations On Listicles That Will Totally Change Your Life.
“One of the advantages to being a novelist is removing oneself from the chatter of the fray and trying to get a read and a historical context on what’s happening in one’s own time.” The Guardian interviews Rachel Kushner about women’s prisons, remorse, and her new novel, The Mars Room. Pair with: our review calls Kushner’s latest a “brutal, unforgiving, and often grimly funny tour de force of wasted lives.”
Wikipedia Find of the Week: A list of films that most frequently use the word “fuck.”
Edwidge Danticat gives us one of the best definitions of the short story in an interview with Kima Jones at The Rumpus. “The short story is like an exquisite painting and you might, when looking at this painting, be wondering what came before or after, but you are fully absorbed in what you’re seeing.” They also discuss Danticat’s novel Claire of the Sea Light, Haitian and Dominican relations, and giving yourself permission to tell the truth. To find out what Danticat has been reading, see her 2013 Year in Reading.
Jessica Love writes for The American Scholar about some recent psychological studies on the art and perspective of storytelling. Of particular interest is the way “the first person does seem to encourage us to identify with the narrator, especially when that narrator is a lot like us.” Not that identifying with narrators is the primary purpose of reading, as the New Yorker reminds us in a piece against “relatability,” but it’s something to consider the next time you pick up a novel and find a character who seems to be just like you.
A moving tribute to Ray Bradbury on The Paris Review Daily from his one time fact checker Stephen Andrew Hiltner: “Ray Bradbury, who never went to college and was entirely library educated, had what so many of the sophisticated, MFA-carrying writers today lack: passion, vitality, emotional awareness.” Also: Wired has collected a bunch of reminiscences from science fiction writers, including Ursula K. Le Guin.