We’ve thought a lot about Leonard Cohen over the years. We’re perhaps, uh, not the only ones. Recently, Cohen’s love letters to Marianne Ihlen sold for a whopping $876,000. While Ihlen and Cohen’s love is recorded in songs like “So Long, Marianne,” these letters appear to preserve something more quotidian: the writing and publication of Cohen’s novels. Referring to his debut, The Favorite Game, Cohen wrote that the literary critics have “all screamed about the wild undisciplined dirty book, so it’s selling quite well.”
Nicole Chung interviews Amy Tan about her new memoir Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir, one of the highlights is when Tan ponders being one of the ‘first’ authors that people name/read when they think of Asian-American literature. “But when [“The Joy Luck Club”] came out, it did feel like there were many expectations from all areas — not just in the Asian American community, but in Asian culture itself, and in any ethnic studies community. There were people who said ‘At last!’ and there were people who said ‘How dare she?’ […] I wanted to say: I’m not writing sociology, it just so happens this is what happened in my own family.”
There is good news for those of us whose dreams of artistic superstardom don’t seem to be panning out — a job listing from McSweeney’s seeking failed artists for an associate position. “We would hate for you to be pretentious,” the listing states, “but if you don’t regularly call other people pretentious — this might not be the job for you.”
“The last two years have given long overdue visibility to trans / non-binary realities, pushing us to re-imagine what centering the margins truly means. Being intentional, though, is more than a special issue of a literary journal for the ‘marginalized;’ it’s about creating a space for folk to curate, create, and declare their own bodies: of work, of resistance, of survival.” Editor Jayy Dodd introduces the new issue of The Offing, devoted to trans and non-binary artists. Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s piece on literary activism.
Comics fans will know that a new Marvel storyline may — just possibly — reunite Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. This has, understandably, produced a range of reactions, not least of which is this piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who argues that the two embody a healthy marriage. “[Their] marriage was a rejection of the macho ideal of romance—which reigns even among nerds—and it mirrored and confirmed my own budding sense of what love was at a very young age,” he writes. You could also read Paul Morton on the character of Peter Parker.
At McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, a disgruntled Laura Jayne Martin rants about why she is tired of sharing an apartment with poet William Carlos Williams.