Tim Parks investigates the idea of “writing to death” in the cases of Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. “So many of the writers I have looked at seem permanently torn between irreconcilable positions,” Parks writes. “Eventually, the dilemma driving the work either leads to death, or is neutralized in a way that prolongs life but dulls the writing” (Bonus: Our own Mark O’Connell just reviewed Parks’s latest book, Italian Ways.)
This week the Paris Review launched a new online series, Big, Bent Ears, a “Serial in Documentary Uncertainty” masterminded by Sam Stephenson and Ivan Weiss. Each installation features “a combination of video, audio, photography, and writing in various arrangements and states of completion,” and the first chapter overlaps Joseph Mitchell and the Big Ears Music Festival even though “the two projects seem to share little: one concerns a wordsmith, a chronicler, and preserver of fading traditions; the other, musicians challenging tradition and musical forms on a sometimes radical basis.”
“There was a plan a few years ago, during the crisis of unaccompanied minors arriving on our southern border, to send a copy of The Beast, Óscar Martínez’s extraordinary account of Central American migration to the U.S., to every member of Congress. How many of them read it? And how many of those who read it changed their position? Did any anti-immigrant populist show an ounce of humanity or generosity as a result?” Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk In Circles, on recommending a book to the president.
Remember when I wrote about Bonnie Huie’s translation of Qiu Miaojin’s Notes of a Crocodile? Well here’s some more about Huie’s work. Over at the PEN blog, you can check out the translator’s introduction to Miaojin as well as an additional excerpt from the translation-in-progress.
“Because I am a writer, people sometimes ask me how ebooks have changed the literary landscape. The short answer, for me, is that I have developed a compulsion to drunk-dial Agatha Christie several times a week.” Elif Batuman on buying (and reading) while intoxicated, at Guardian.
“The day you follow me to that mound of oyster shells on the beach is the day I realize muscle and bone have been at war for a long, long time.” The Saturday Rumpus essay by Ashley Inguanta is tender and poetic. Some past iterations are also well-worth a revisit.
The Washington Post interviews four Young Adult authors whose books go beyond coming out stories, these authors want queer love stories to be mainstream. Their books range from contemporary to historical to fantasy. “As authors get more comfortable exploring LGBT storylines, the coming-out tale isn’t disappearing. ‘I think we’ll always need for the foreseeable future both types of stories,” Silvera added. “While I’ve been so happy being able to live an out life, I think a lot about teens who aren’t able to be out right now and I want to write for them.’ Slipping back in time to write for teenagers gives authors the opportunity to explore first love again.” Take a look and consider adding these to your reading list.