Does modern China need its own literary sub-genre? On trying to understand China’s “ultra-unreal” reality: “If Magic Realism was the way in which Latin American authors presented their view of their reality, then Ultra-Unreal Realism should be our name for the literature through which the Chinese regard their reality. The Chinese word ‘chaohuan’ (ultra-unreal) is something of a play on the word ‘mohuan’ (magic), as in ‘mohuan xianshizhuyi’ (magic realism)— ‘mohuan’ is ‘magical unreal,’ and ‘chaohuan’ is ‘surpassing the unreal.’”
Few people have heard of Iceberg Slim, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been important. His autobiography, published in 1967, tells the story of his life as a pimp, and one of his novels, Trick Baby, was made into a 1972 movie. He’s been called “the Mark Twain of hip-hop.” At Salon, Scott Timberg talks with Justin Gifford, the author of a new biography of Slim.
At The Rumpus, Greg Hunter talks with John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, whose debut novel, Wolf in White Van, came out last month. In the past few weeks, I’ve recommended former Millions-er Emily M. Keeler’s review of the book, as well as a video interview with Darnielle.
“So why should the stories about us always be about the bad stuff? We deserve the romantic comedy, the late night barfly scene, the silly, light-hearted stuff of life reflected back at us.” Camille Perri writes about the need for queer stories that are not rooted in sadness, trauma, or loss. Pair with: an essay on the commercial viability of LGTBQ literature.
New this week is Marilynne Robinson’s collection of essays When I Was a Child I Read Books. Also out are Arcadia by Lauren Groff, The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits, and The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin. Finally, the collected writings of the late and beloved critic John Leonard, Reading for My Life, is now out.