“Over three decades of almost constant composing and recording, he would amass over sixty LPs, running the gamut from early records with his band the Mothers of Invention that helped to create the milieu we think of as the Sixties, to caustic send-ups of that same counterculture, doo-wop pastiche, tape cut-ups, film scores, gonzo cabaret, big-band charts, way out prog, show tunes, music composed entirely on and for the Synclavier digital sampler, full-score orchestral music, and thousands of scabrous, exploratory guitar solos.” On Frank Zappa, music theory wizard and occasional public intellectual.
David Fincher, who helmed the American cinematic adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, may join the team working on the film for Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Flynn herself penned the first draft of the screenplay. As you wait (im)patiently for the project to get underway, you can take our own Michael Bourne’s advice and treat yourself to Flynn’s earlier books.
Daniel Woodrell was so busy dodging bill collectors that he almost missed a telegram from an agent interested in his first novel, Under the Bright Lights. He discusses his writing career, the film adaptation of Winter’s Bone, and how he’s used the same coffee mug since 1974 for The Daily Beast’s “How I Write” series.
In the latest issue of The Boston Review, Elaine Scarry reviews Steven Pinker’s
The Better Angels of Our Nature. Pinker argues that literature, by bolstering man’s empathy, has lead to huge reductions in worldwide violence, a thesis that sounds dangerously close to the absurd pop-science of Jonathan Gottschall’s The Storytelling Animal.
“Sometimes I fear that Midwestern authors are seen from a similar vantage point: that many of us are ‘fly-over writers’ to whom readers wave (or just ignore completely) as they make their way to Saul Bellow and Stuart Dybek and Marilynne Robinson. I fear that these bigger names, along with a few others (Charles Baxter, Lorrie Moore), are seen as exceptions to the general rule that little of cultural worth grows in this flat, middle stretch of the country.” On the plight of the literary Midwesterner.
“As energy loss is an unavoidable fact of mechanics — no mechanism can be 100% efficient, and the best a designer can do is manage the loss as productively as possible — so translation loss is similarly unavoidable,” explains Mark Davie, who recently translated Galileo’s Selected Writings. But what if the “energy loss” isn’t a failure of the work’s translator so much as a failure of the organization commissioning (or failing to commission) the translation? What if, as is the case for much Arabic literature, “the process [of selecting works for translation] is based on a political consideration” that deprives Western readers of the best Arabic literary work?
Out this week: The Book of Joan by Lidia Yuknavitch; Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke; A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume; The Woman Who Had Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic by Nick Joaquin; and My Cat Yugoslavia by Pajtim Statovci. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.