“Maurice Sendak drew his partner Eugene after he died, as he had drawn his family members when they were dying. The moment is one he was compelled to capture, pin down, understand, see. Where many— maybe most—people look away, he wanted to render. He was very wrapped up in the goodbye, the flight, the loss; it was almost Victorian, to be so deeply entranced with the moment of death, the instinct to preserve or document it. It’s also the artist’s impulse: to turn something terrible into art, to take something you are terrified of and heartbroken by and make it into something else. For the time it takes to draw what is in front of you, you are not helpless or a bystander or bereft: You are doing your job.” On Maurice Sendak and the art of death.
Parul Sehgal, nonfiction editor at Publisher’s Weekly (and sister of The Millions intern Ujala Sehgal), has been awarded the National Books Critics Circle “Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing.” Previous winners include Joan Acocella, Ron Charles, and Sam Anderson. The award was based on her diverse portfolio of work as a reviewer, including a review of Susie Linfield’s The Cruel Radiance, a review of Stacy Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life, and her piece on David Abram’s Becoming Animal. Congratulations!
Back in 2013, Ted Gioia wrote a piece for The Millions about an old sci-fi novel that correctly predicted the future. Since then, he’s embarked on an ambitious project that expands on his interest in sci-fi, exploring how the most radical sci-fi writers of the sixties paved the way for much of modern fiction. As he puts it, “I focus on this era in the history of sci-fi because it laid the groundwork for one of the most important developments in current-day fiction.”
Coincident with the release of her new novel, Marie-Helene Bertino published an excerpt in the latest issue of Granta. It features, among other things, a character using the phrase “better-him-than-me kind of park.” You could also read Bertino’s interview with Jessica Gross, which followed the publication of her debut book of short stories.
Here’s a look at the top-ten most read articles from Electric Literature of 2015, most of which we’ve already told you about and all of which is worth a revisit. Bonus: here’s a Best of Brain Pickings, as well.