"While others ... have explored the more serious contexts of online humor, particularly when it tilts into the grim and mean, in Epic Fail [Mark] O’Connell makes a useful addition to what I’ll refer to as Lulz Studies by attempting to put this variety of Schadenfreude in cultural-historical perspective."
In 1932, several black Americans – including Langston Hughes – traveled to the Soviet Union to shoot a propaganda film about the “evils of racism in the United States.” One of those travelers, Lloyd Patterson, would never return. Instead, Patterson married an Ukrainian woman, and the pair had two children. The firstborn, Jim Patterson, was at one time the most famous black resident of the USSR – and his appearance in The Circus even drew the admiration of Joseph Stalin. After World War II, Patterson served as a Soviet naval officer aboard a submarine in the Black Sea. From there he went on to the Soviet Writers Union in 1967. If you think this sounds far-fetched, I encourage you to read more here.
You can read the entire first chapter from László Krasznahorkai’s latest novel, Seiobo There Below. We reviewed the work on our site last month. Meanwhile, the Hungarian author has recently received an unwelcome invitation. As literary scholar Tibor Keresztúry notes (via George Szirtes’s translation), “a certain G Fodor Gábor, the strategic director of the Századvég (Century’s End) Foundation … suggests that [Krasznahorkai] should shoot himself in the head.”
“Well, is ‘addiction’ what a literary writer should want in readers? And if a writer accepts such addiction, or even rejoices in it, as Murakami seems to, doesn’t it put pressure on him, as pusher, to offer more of the same?” Tim Parks writes for the NYRB about writers who keep producing more of the same to please hungry readers.