“We are not buried in history, but surrounded by it. You can’t avoid our behavior being shaped by it, to a considerable degree. We have this fantasy that we are free of history. This allows us not to see the circumstances, the historical circumstances of other people.” The Rumpus interviews Russell Banks about his new book Voyager: Travel Writings.
Humans have been covering paintings, windows, and mirrors after the passing of loved ones for generations. Why do we feel the need to close off our connection to the outside world when we are grieving? Colin Dickey writes about the social, literary, and religious connotations of grief and memory at Hazlitt. At The Millions, Lidia Yuknavitch writes about channeling her grief into art.
"I can’t remember another single work of art ever having had that immediate and powerful an impact, which of course makes the experience quite impossible to describe. As I experienced it, it drove me out of my wretched mind ... I do know that I knew immediately that my sense of what science fiction could be had been permanently altered." William Gibson on having his world rocked (and artistic sensibilities altered) by Chris Marker's 1962 short film La Jetée.
"Wallace's status has rapidly evolved from marginal writer, noted for long, experimental work, to indispensable reference point for people writing about almost anything—from college football to WikiLeaks." On the powerful afterlife of David Foster Wallace.
The last meal is a curious staple of modern executions, not least because it involves, in the words of one death-row inmate, “putting gas in a car that don’t have no motor.” At Lapham’s Quarterly, an essay on the ritual’s history, one that includes mention of famous last meals like terminally ill French President Francois Mitterrand’s final dinner of “Marennes oysters, foie gras, and two ortolan songbirds.”
To add to the awards lists, Believer has announced its editors' shortlist for the Believer Book Award, which looks to acknowledge "the strongest and most underappreciated" novels of the year. The shortlist includes Danielle Dutton's Sprawl; Kira Henehan's Orion You Came and You Took All My Marbles (reviewed for The Millions); James Hynes' Next, Grace Krilanovich's The Orange Eats Creeps (reviewed for The Millions); and Paul Murray's Skippy Dies (reviewed here).