“In my adolescence people spoke of ‘café intellectuals,’ not with the respect due to a sect that transmits ideas within the cramped space of a table but with the contempt reserved for those who turn their backs on reality and take refuge in vain speculation.” Juan Villoro on the writing life in Mexico City’s cafés as part of the “Writing Life Around the World” series for Electric Literature.
Out this week: a new novel, Dissident Gardens, by Year in Reading alum Jonathan Lethem; Subtle Bodies by Norman Rush; His Wife Leaves Him by Stephen Dixon; Goat Mountain by Year in Reading alum David Vann; Someone by Alice McDermott; and Enon by Paul Harding, which Joseph M. Schuster wrote about for The Millions yesterday.
Reddit users asked one another to name their all-time favorite poems. Not to be outdone, Poetry Brain asked its Twitter followers to name their all-time favorite poems… to read naked. Since I imagine the latter group is usually only able to read in the buff while at home, I bet they really lament the 2001 demise of Harvard’s “Phone-a-Poem” feature.
At the Book Bench, slides of Roland Barthes’ diaries from 1977 in their original, hand-written form: “His brilliance, which indelibly influenced literary theory, semiotics, social theory, and post-structuralism, can make him seem as distant as he is renowned. Yet the diary entries… reveal Barthes to be extraordinarily sensitive and relatable.” (via The Rumpus)
“My parents really don’t like that book. It embarrassed and saddened them and they didn’t understand why I would air my dirty laundry in public. They’ve had some time to sit with it and now they’re more supportive of what I do as a memoirist. I think they see the value of telling your story now. It’s still a tender subject and I wouldn’t say that they exactly love the book now, but at least it’s an open dialogue.” Jillian Lauren speaks on the cost of telling one’s truth publicly and her memoir Some Girls: My Life in a Harem. Pair with a piece by our own Michael Bourne on the art and business of memoirs.
The Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologisme – the division of the French government responsible for preserving the integrity of the Gallic language – ruled last week that enough is enough when it comes to “hashtag.” They feel the word is just too English for the banks of the Seine. They recommend instead using the decidedly softer “mot-dièse” (pro: ‘Mo-Dee-YEZ’). Previously the group asked residents to replace “email” with “courriel.”