“Kill ‘Em and Leave is [James] McBride’s own testament to [James] Brown’s philosophy. It’s a stunningly unorthodox book, indifferent to the conventions of biographical nonfiction … The book is a hybrid of forms, largely a telling of Brown’s life story and partly a telling of McBride’s search for that story, with digressions about the author’s own life, essayistic ruminations on Brown and his music, and free, looping riffs that have the energy of improvisation.” On James McBride’s unusual, unorthodox biography of the unusual, unorthodox James Brown.
Is it possible to read fiction by an actor without thinking of them as the character that made them famous? It’s a question many people asked when reading James Franco, and it’s a question they’re likely to ask again when reading One More Thing, a new book of short stories by The Office star B. J. Novak. At Open Letters Monthly, Justin Hickey reviews Novak’s collection.
At The Rumpus, our own Nick Ripatrazone writes about his twin daughters, Amelia and Olivia, who taught him that, when it comes to twins, “there are two babies but three identities: one for each baby, and then the twin identity, an amorphous, shared mass of personality and action that makes Amelia fuss one night and Olivia the next.” The essay nicely complements Nick’s Millions piece on Andre Dubus.
Book trailers are one thing, but what’s a literary short film? According to Red 14 founders Adam Cushman and Mike Sandow, “it’s not advertising a product; it gives a cinematic glimpse into the book, one which will ideally make the viewer interested in learning more about the author, the author’s current book, and the author’s past and future work.” Together, the pair has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund four such films about four worthy titles (Matt Bell’s awesome debut novel among them).
“Calvin and Hobbes is certainly not a text about queerness, yet when I returned to it at this altered point in my life, the strip suddenly seemed to describe things that resonated with me now: what it was like to live in a world where expressing your realest self is so often penalized, and the value of finding a second family, a close friend or friends, if your blood family fails to understand or accept the truest version of you.” Gabrielle Bellot at The Literary Hub explains why Calvin and Hobbes is great literature.
Are we now living in a golden age of the uncanny? The Millions contributor Porochista Khakpour suspects that we are, and she also suspects that our historical moment, populated as it is with alienating developments and surreal art, is key to understanding the work of Helen Oyeyemi. In the Times, Khakpour reviews Oyeyemi’s new novel. (You could also read both writers’ Year in Reading pieces.)