Is it possible to share something with a “maybe don’t read this” tag attached? The literary internet has been buzzing today over the moral implications of stripping a writer (and, by association, a human) of their anonymity after this piece on Elena Ferrante was published in the NYRB. Read it or don’t read it, but definitely read her work.
Over at Threepenny Review, Jess Row expounds on "blandness" in the work of Haruki Murakami, and particularly in his 2.8 lb. tome 1Q84—a book tabbed by Charles Baxter in last year’s Year in Reading as the best he’d read all year. Row contemplates the way Murakami’s characters and sentences “almost never lose this placid, observant neutrality,” or “continuous monotone.”
You may have heard us mention Electric Literature's Recommended Reading project recently. It's a great new venture in which short stories are selected by other prominent writers -- and it's recently surpassed its fundraising goal. Now, they've even combined the project with one of their most beloved classics: Single Sentence Animation. Check out this little ditty to accompany Ben Marcus's "Watching Mysteries With My Mother" and, of course, check out their Kickstarter page.
The Asian American Literary Review is releasing their Special Issue Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of September 11 with a launch party this Friday at 7pm in downtown New York at Alwan for the Arts. The 350-page(!) issue has interviews, essays, and first person testimony on 9/11 by South/Asian and Arab American contributors -- including Kazim Ali, Amitava Kumar, and Khin Mai Aung from AALDEF (the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund) -- several of whom should be at the launch.
How do you describe the life and times of John Horne Burns? He was in turn a military intelligence officer, a schoolteacher, a critical darling after he published The Gallery, a pariah after he published anything else, and a gay man in post-WWII America. In characteristic concision, Ernest Hemingway summed the whole thing up thusly: “There was a fellow who wrote a fine book and then a stinking book about a prep school, and then he just blew himself up.”
"Writers are outsiders, and usually not by their own choosing. It's why they're writers. If they didn't feel alienated from human experience, they wouldn't feel so drawn to writing to make sense of their lives. It's not the outsider's facility for language that makes her a writer — many a student body president or homecoming queen can turn a phrase — but her ability to howl at the moon, on the page." Karen Karbo writes for Powell's Books's blog about how much publishing has changed in the last 20-some years, but she also has a lot of great words about why people would want to deal with writing and publishing in the first place. Pair her smart essay with our own Nick Ripatrazone's piece "Practical Art: On Teaching the Business of Creative Writing."
In 1969, Random House’s Book of the Month Club offered members an edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dalí. (You can view the full collection here.) Forty-three years later, the publisher had a mail delivery experience that was almost equally surreal.