“I couldn’t put the books down. Now that so many of us complain of diminished attention spans— our own as well as our companions’—it’s worth asking what has made millions of readers willing to suspend their disbelief—to suspend their selves—for thousands of pages.” Why have so many people gone gaga for Ferrante and Knausgaard? We have our own theories as well.
How did Herman Melville’s friendship with Nathaniel Hawthorne affect the writing of Moby-Dick? It’s a hard question to answer with any certainty, but Patrick James Dunagan gives it a shot, drawing evidence from Erik Hage’s book on the authors’ relationship. You could also read Hester Blum’s argument that Moby-Dick is the greatest American novel.
Great news for food lovers and over-thinkers everywhere: Gastronomica, the James Beard Award winning journal that takes a highminded approach to food and taste, recently began publishing writing online. Start with this lovely long article on the competition between Chinese and French black truffles. Or with a slightly cheeky revision of Pierre Bourdieu’s food space, if that’s more your, um, cup of tea.
“I think it’s important that poets exist in societies because they exist in the realm of affect. Feeling is important to them. How people feel, what they feel, what breaks them, how trauma resonates through their lives… that’s a legitimate space in poetry. It’s a legitimate space for investigation.” Aaron Coleman interviews Citizen author Claudia Rankine about intimacy, her writing process, and her experience in an MFA program.
NY Press has a long look at the history of iconoclastic indie press Soft Skull, which recently shuttered its New York office, effectively ending the publisher’s run as a standalone press and making it just an imprint of California-based parent (and, it should be noted, rescuer from financial straights) Counterpoint. Incidentally, I’ve had a front row seat for all this, as, for the book I’m co-editing, I was initially working with the good folks in New York and then everything was suddenly (and thankfully without a hitch) transferred to the folks in Berkeley. (Thanks, Craig)