First published in 1979, Octavia E. Butler‘s Kindred remains a touchstone of speculative fiction. For Ploughshares, Kat Solomon takes a closer look at how Butler uses time travel to reckon with the main character’s family history of slavery in the antebellum South. “Like much great speculative fiction,” Solomon writes, “the fantastic in Kindred functions as both an opportunity for the unfolding of an unusual story while also serving as a kind of foundational metaphor, in this case for the ways that the history of slavery continues to assert itself in the present.”
Jack Gilbert died yesterday at the age of 87. Gilbert was the author of five standalone poetry collections—as well as additional collected volumes such as last March’s Collected Poems—and he was also a past winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. For The LA Times, John Penner reviews the poet’s legacy. Or, perhaps as fitting tribute to Gilbert’s life and work, better to hear his own final lines to the poem “Failing and Flying”: “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, / but just coming to the end of his triumph.”
“Salinger’s Holden Caulfield made a distinction between writers you would like to call on the phone and those you wouldn’t care to talk to at all. Teju Cole belongs to the former group.” Year in Reading alum Aleksandar Hemon interviews Teju Cole. If you can’t get enough of Cole, we interviewed him, too.
“Goodreads lets me capture and disperse impressions that occur as I read. I tend to track the sounds I make when reading, the chortles, gasps, growls, and LOLs. I try to figure out why I might not have liked aspects of a book, looking under the hood in a workshoppy way…” Lee Klein offers a defense of Goodreads and good criticism over at Full Stop.
Live in New York? Like Flavorpill? Then you should probably mosey on down to their event on Thursday, where they’ll be listening to the songwriter Holly Miranda and talking with Lindsay Hunter about her new book, Don’t Kiss Me. (If you’ll recall, our own Nick Moran wrote about Lindsay’s work here and here.)
The great singer-songwriter Josh Ritter is on tour with Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit. In honor of that, here’s puppet master Liam Hurley‘s video for Josh Ritter’s beautiful ballad “The Curse,” a song about a mummy falling in love with the archeologist who discovers him.