“Any day’s news supplies plots so fantastic that most make-believe story lines pale in comparison.” Author John Altman in the LA Times about the difficulty of writing fiction during Trump’s presidency. “My current novel-in-progress concerns North Korea,” writes Altman, “and each day’s headlines endanger its premise. But too much second-guessing hobbles a writer. One can only take a deep breath, remind oneself that war with North Korea would jeopardize much more than a humble spy thriller, and forge ahead, hoping for the best.”
For Electric Literature Jennifer Baker interviews Yahdon Israel who hosts the weekly literary interview series LIT on Youtube. On his inspiration for starting the show; “I watch a great deal of interviews on the Breakfast Club, James Lipton’s Inside the Actors Studio, Sway in the Morning, Hot 97, Between Two Ferns. And the people who are seldom interviewed are writers. In many ways being Black has taught me to notice what isn’t there. That lens lends itself to what I notice about pop culture: We’re missing from the conversation. Better put: We’re not included. And by “we” I mean writers.” Watch the show and subscribe, some interviews include Kaitlyn Greenidge, Claire Messaud, Victor LaValle and Jesmyn Ward.
“Young black fiction writers in the U.S. often face a strange obstacle as they try to figure out who they are — it’s called American literature. A high number of pre-civil-rights-era novels by white American writers are likely to include tossed-off racial slurs and/or stock black characters, some of which make racially conscious readers want to hurl the book across the room, even if the wooly-headed pickaninnies are only peeking around a doorjamb on one page out of 400. There are exceptions, but shockingly few. You always have to brace yourself — always.” James Hannaham writes about growing up in Yonkers but finding himself in Southern literature.
“In a just world, every single person who was in favor of invading Iraq would have to read this book. It would be tattooed on the eyes of the invasion’s architects, force them to see everything through these writers’ words.” NPR reviews Iraq + 100: Stories from Another Iraq, a collection in which 10 Iraqi authors imagine their country 100 years into the future. See also our own review of literature about the war.
LA Weekly writes up the Los Angeles indie bookstore scene, of which I was once a part. Book Soup, my former place of employment, gets a nice and quite accurate writeup. I’ve never shared my stories on the blog, but, for example, the stuff about Faye Dunaway and Elton John is true. Tyson, the star of the article, was one of our more colorful newsstand employees when I was working there. The article’s take on Book Soup owner Glenn, meanwhile, is hilarious and right on the nose. As a bonus, the LA Weekly’s package includes a little bookstore tour of Los Angeles that serves as a nice counterpoint to the one that Garth created for NYC recently.Speaking of LA, obsessive film fans and those who love them should note that Amazon is having a big sale on Criterion Collection DVDs right now.Looking for a new place to live? The house in which Jack Kerouac was born is now for rent.TEV goes out on a “limn” with Michiko Kakutani.