“Trusting the literary press and the mechanisms of the market to curate the books we read and study is to hand over whole regions of literary curiosity and judgment before one even picks up a book.” On refusing to read. We’re not prepared to go quite that far, instead preferring our own Sonya Chung‘s practice of not finishing books.
“[E]ach video is a portrait of the artist as a beginner—and a look at the creative process, in all its joy, abjection, delusion, and euphoria.” The Paris Review has a new video series called “My First Time,” in which big-name authors talk about getting their start. Helen DeWitt, Jeffrey Eugenides, Sheila Heti, a chain-smoking Karl Ove Knausgaard – what more could anyone want? More origin stories, that’s what! Six writers – Colum McCann, Alexander Chee, Jami Attenberg, Emily St. John Mandel, Justin Taylor, and Anthony Marra – look back on their first books for us.
“Are things getting worse for women in publishing?” The Guardian asks, and while the article focuses on the UK, it also touches on the state of affairs in the U.S. What both situations share is a lack of female representation at the executive level, based partly on “a generation of women retiring and the amalgamation of publishing houses, which has left fewer c-circle jobs to compete for.” Oh, and sexism.
“In the 1970s it circulated among Left Bank intellectuals, including Sartre and Bernard-Henri Lévy, as an aid to productive writing. In 1981 it was listed as a controlled substance in the US and in 1986, after it was scheduled under the WHO Convention on Psychotropic Substances, it was removed from prescription sale.” The London Review of Books reviews two histories about the role of drugs in the fighting of wars, Blitzed: Drugs In the Third Reich by Norman Ohler and Shooting Up: A History of Drugs in Warfare by Łukasz Kamieński Hurst. Both pay particular attention to Captagon (the name a portmanteau of “captain” and “pentagon”), a pharmaceutical that has become common throughout Eastern Europe, the Gulf States, India, and China, and by 2014 “had become a significant source of funding for all sides in Syria’s civil war.”
John Warner, your personal Biblioracle, is taking his column to the Chicago Tribune‘s Printers Row. Tell him the last five books you’ve read and he’ll recommend something delicious, nourishing, or just plain good for your next great read. Visit the Biblioracle by sending him an email at: [email protected].
A couple weeks ago, we published our review of Ben Lerner’s 10:04, the follow-up to his debut Leaving the Atocha Station. At the Poetry Foundation’s blog, Adam Plunkett argues that 10:04 inadvertently reveals its author’s poetic training. The book, he says, “dissolves into a poem.”