At Lit Hub, David Karashima asked five Japanese writers, including Yoko Ogawa and Masatsugu Ono, to discuss their favorite short stories by Haruki Murakami. Mieko Kawakami, author of Breasts and Eggs, praises the story on loneliness and lost, “Tony Takitani.” “I think of Murakami as an athlete,” she says. “Just as a sprinter does everything he can to cut a tenth of a second off his time, Murakami has always assessed his abilities, set new goals for his next work, refined his skills, and pushed the outer limits of his fictional universe.”
Hugo Lindgren, editor of The New York Times Magazine, participated in a pretty nifty Reddit Ask Me Anything installment. When one commenter asked him how long it takes to prepare each week’s Meh List, Lindgren wrote, “The Meh list never stops. The actual compilation of it is lickety split but the hunt for Meh is eternal.” He also admitted that two of his favorite magazine stories are Mark Jacobson’s “Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet” and John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” [Reg. Req.].
In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.
Granta has published translated writing from Nobel Prize winner Svetlana Alexievich. She writes: “In 1986 I had decided not to write about war again. For a long time after I finished my book War’s Unwomanly Face I couldn’t bear to see a child with a bleeding nose. I suppose each of us has a measure of protection against pain; mine had been exhausted. Two events changed my mind.” Find out more about Alexievich here.
Erika Anderson recites her teenage poetry at readings and shares her reasoning for doing so. “I want to live where irony meets kindness, where daring meets bullshit, where everything that failed meets the hope that something might not. I hope my readers do too.”