“How can you write a complete story without a conventional plot? We often hear that in short stories, the main character must change. But in some stories, including some by Grace Paley, the characters don’t change. Instead, her stories change the reader. You’re different by the time you reach the end.” We’ve told you about The Atlantic’s “By Heart” series plenty of times before. This week, it’s Alice Mattison, who touches on everything from character development to the strange stories of Grace Paley.
“‘What I want,’ a young Luis Buñuel announced to the audience at an early screening of his first film, Un Chien Andalou (1929), ‘is for you not to like the film … I’d be sorry if it pleased you.’ The film’s opening scene, which culminates in a close-up of a straight-edge razor being drawn through a woman’s eyeball, is often taken as the epitome of cinema’s potential to do violence to its audience…Horror movies frighten us; violent thrillers agitate us; sentimental stories make us cry. Suffering is often part of our enjoyment. Within limits, however: we are not to be so displeased that we are not pleased. Buñuel deliberately went beyond the limits of permissible displeasure. And so, in his own way, does the Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke.”
Out this week: Sweetland by Michael Crummey; Glow by Ned Beauman; Frog by the Nobel laureate Mo Yan; Watch Me Go by Mark Wisniewski; A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor; Blood-Drenched Beard by Daniel Galera; Black River by S.M. Hulse; Etta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper; My Father’s Wives by the ESPN host Mike Greenberg; and Mobile Library by David Whitehouse. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Random House is releasing a collection of previously unpublished poems and stories from Truman Capote’s youth, recently found in the archives of the New York Public Library. Over at Full Stop, Jacob Kiernan examines the keen political conscience in Capote’s never-before-published work. As he explains it, “While his early stories are structurally simple, they evince a prescient social conscience.”
BLDGBLOG, which has “always been interested in learning how novelists see the city,” interviewed China Miéville about “the conceptual origins of the divided city featured in his… award-winning novel The City & The City,” among other things. Architects, fans of urban decay, and general lit nerds are going to have a field day with this link, I promise you.