“It soon emerged that there is a uniquely British brand of feeling, a blend of distress and composure marked by a touching compulsion to keep up appearances in the face of interpersonal dissolution. For all its prevalence and subtlety, this mode of engagement is difficult for the uninitiated to decipher or even to discern, and I would have remained oblivious of it if not for the works of Dame Iris Murdoch, a connoisseur of British emotional life in all its baffling permutations.” On Iris Murdoch and the British brand of distress and composure.
"If you ask around, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a really bad novel easily enough. I mean a novel by someone who has spent isolated years writing a book they are convinced is a great work of literature. And when you’re reading it you’ll know it’s bad, and you’ll know what bad truly is." What makes bad writing so bad? Toby Litt at The Guardian investigates.
Recommended Reading: The Missouri Review's poem of the week is Rose McLarney's "Arcadia" from the fall 2013 issue. "It’s the feeling of the inquiry, 'Don’t I know you from somewhere?,' a traveler gets when she walks into a new place and still, somehow, recognizes a quality in a face, or can somehow hum a refrain in an otherwise strange song," she writes about her poetry.
Bygone Bureau editor Jonathan Gourlay spent eleven years living on the microscopic island of Pohnpei, and fortunately for us he kept his wits about him long enough to churn out a “funny, haunting travel memoir” entitled Nowhere Slow. You can check out an excerpt from the eBook over here.
Mark O'Connell's recent essay in these pages discussed how long, challenging novels can hold you captive (in both the good and bad senses of that phrase). Now, in the Times, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott come to the defense of "the slow and the boring" in film, responding Dan Kois's Times Magazine piece confessing he's "suffering from a kind of culture fatigue and have less interest in eating my cultural vegetables."