“In no particular order, except one of hallelujah, here’s a necessarily partial list of some other living Korean American writers whose work or person, or both, I’ve had the great good luck of encountering”….you’ll have to read the interview for the lengthy list as well as the thoughts of four Korean American writers who gathered at the behest of R.O. Kwon to discuss the influence and impact of Alexander Chee. It’s full of beautiful insights from Kwon, Nicole Chung, Alice Sola Kim, and Matthew Salesses such as “Alex said he ‘wanted to plant that flag in the culture,’ and until he said that I don’t know if I’d thought about it as a reason to write. The need to exist in the canon, in the literary world. I found that very powerful, and very brave”. Chee’s newest book is an essay collection, How to Write An Autobiographical Novel, that we eagerly anticipated last month.
If your default mood hovers between melancholy and despair, you may be cheered (or at least made a bit less glum) by this argument that striving for happiness is bad for us in the long run. Mari Ruti makes the case that a “happy, balanced life” depends in large part on a kind of emotional numbness.
Out this week: A Good Family by Erik Fassnacht; Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb; A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan; You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman; The Fall of Princes by Robert Goolrick; and a limited edition of Neil Gaiman’s The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
There are plenty of good reasons to read classic literature, but Mary Beard reminds us that there’s a different kind of classic that’s worth revisiting and questioning. “You do the ancient world much greater service if you keep arguing with them.”
Part Into the Wild, part Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Howard Axelrod’s The Point of Vanishing is the story of his two years spent in profound solitude in the Vermont wilderness. Called “torture” by prison rights activists and “a threat to mental stability” by psychologists, Axelrod’s decision to sequester himself from society was nothing if not extreme. Alexander Supertramp would be proud.
Recommended Reading: Meryl Cates of The Paris Review gets Millayed in Edna St. Vincent Millay’s gardens at Steepletop, the New England-style farmhouse where the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet worked and played. Pair with this essay from The Millions on reading writers’ houses.