“Let the buppie and the arts section go to hell: Swiss Army Man is a film by which critics ought to judge ourselves. We have seen this movie before, in our dreams, when we were children. Its extraordinary contact with our oldest forms of storytelling seems to have rendered it an unintelligible novelty, but if we can’t see how gracefully everything in it matters to everything else in it — plot to character development to dialogue to music to art direction to setting to acting to cinematography — then there’s something wrong with us.” Daniel Radcliffe stars as a semi-animate, gas-filled corpse with amnesia in Swiss Army Man — a movie about farts. But what else is it about?
Recommended Reading: The selected letters of William S. Burroughs at The Paris Review Daily. Read his correspondences with family and writers Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer. Pair with Jonathan Clarke’s article on why an author’s biography will never be more important than their writing.
“Ah the world, oh the whale!” At The Washington Times, my review of Philip Hoare’s wonderful new anatomy of all things cetacean, The Whale, winner of the prestigious Samuel Johnson nonfiction prize. (ECW)
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In memory of Peter Matthiessen, The Missouri Review has unlocked an interview with him from 1989. Matthiessen detailed the beginning of his writing career. “I started my first novel and sent off about four chapters and waited by the post office for praise to roll in, calls from Hollywood, everything. Finally my agent sent me a letter that said ‘Dear Peter, James Fenimore Cooper wrote this a hundred and fifty years ago, only he wrote it better. Yours, Bernice.’ I probably needed that; it was very healthy.” For more Matthiessen, you can read one of his best travel essays or his new novel, In Paradise.
How do you know when you’re finished writing a novel? Electric Literature’s advice column, The Blunt Instrument, tackles the timeless questions of how to begin and when to end. If it’s endings you’re after, this piece from The Millions on writers and last lines will help give you some closure.