“How can we trust ourselves? Trust that our skills will return? Trust that this blank document—this one, right now—won’t be our undoing? The previous essay I wrote won’t save me when the blank document stares, and the deadline looms, and the editor lurks, and the readers wait.” Mensah Demary on writing and forgetting.
"A woman I did not know called me to help her with something I have always loved to do: write. Certainly it was fate, my involvement destined to be a seed for a fairy tale ending, I thought. I was wrong," Scott Saalman writes about the moral challenges of agreeing to help someone with their writing at The Morning News.
A lot has already been said about Nicolas Winding Refn's newest and arguably most provocative film, Neon Demon. At The Rumpus, Jeffery Edalatpour examines beauty and its extremes, and also asks a couple questions of the director, himself: "Refn has revised the mythology of Aphrodite; she dons as much armor as Athena, enjoying nothing but the hunt. When I asked the director if he could cite any visual influences, his flat affect implied disdain for my simplistic question: 'I just photograph what I find interesting. I believe that women are more powerful and more interesting than men. It’s just very much what I like to fantasize about.' Fair enough."
A surreal theater production of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, directed by Yukio Ninagawa, premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival in July. Ian Buruma writes for the NYRB about the marriage of tradition and modernity, and Western and Eastern references in the play. As he puts it, "even without traditional references, the production—perhaps more than Murakami’s novel—is still unmistakably Japanese: stylized, poetic, comical, violent, full of spectacular effects, and often exquisitely beautiful to look at. The setting jumps at lightning speed from a bus station, to a library, to a sleazy bar area. Various characters emerge and disappear, like memories or scenes from a dream, in an assortment of moving transparent boxes."
Turns out the Streisand effect applies to book sales. The Wall Street Journal reports that banning a book in China causes sales to increase both at home and abroad. “These days, smothering someone is as good as crowning that person,” the article quotes a Chinese reader as saying. You could also read Deanna Fei on being a Chinese-American writer in China.
"Still, what he captured with genius was the ontological unease of a world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together." An essay in the Boston Review argues the importance of Philip K. Dick's literature— where the real and fake intersect and collide — and the world we live in today. From our archive: on the pleasures of Dick's sometimes awful prose.