For Tor.com, Tochi Onyebuchi reflects on his role as a black writer during protests against police brutality and the killing of black men and women. “And there I was, walking past that hollowed-out grocery store that November night, writing. Struggling with the possibility that this writing does nothing,” Onyebuchi notes. “I know it is a thing that brings me joy. I feel useful doing it, even if that feeling is an illusion, smoke keeping me from seeing a difficult truth reflected back at me. Writing will not rebuild that Foodtown that went up in flames that night. It will not restock it with cereal and toilet paper and canola oil. But terror abates when I write.”
“The blackly comic energy of Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts—its caustic ebullience, the strange buoyancy of its suffering—is a remarkably American achievement, a kind of death-dance capered on the corpse of a vividly rendered early 1930s Manhattan.” On Miss Lonelyhearts, the darkest American masterpiece.
Chemikal Underground, the Glasgow label that first launched Mogwai and Arab Strap, steps into the literary realm with its first audio collection of stories, The Year of Open Doors. You can listen to an excerpt–Arab Strap’s own Aidan Moffat reads his story “The Donaldson Boy.”
In the late fifties, an old flame of Samuel Beckett, Ethna MacCarthy, fell ill and died of throat cancer in Dublin. Around this time, female voices began to enter Beckett’s work, which up until that point had featured almost exclusively male characters. Was there a connection? In a review of a new edition of Beckett’s letters, Fintan O’Toole suggests that there was. You could also read Elizabeth Winkler on the author’s bilingual oeuvre.
Who killed the literary critic?: “In the age of blogging, great critics appear to be on life support. Salon’s book reviewers discuss snobbery, how to make criticism fun and the need for cultural gatekeepers.” The ongoing, seemingly never ending discussion of the death of literature and criticism continues, though Salon’s interest in “how to make criticism fun” is a promising sign.Online used book marketplace AbeBooks looks at the yearbook collecting subculture. The most expensive yearbook to every be sold on the site? The Ole Miss Yearbook 1921 containing “William Faulkner’s poem, ‘Nocturne,’ in facsimile of the author’s stylized printing over a two-page spread along with several Faulkner drawings.”Buzz presents the Nixon Rock on his Madonna of the Toast blog.Carolyn has been on an enviable literary-themed roadtrip. Luckily we can read along at home.