At the Guardian, Sam Jordinson reflects on the many moments of sexual tension found in Edith Wharton’s Pulitzer-winning novel, The Age of Innocence. “Every small moment takes on huge significance,” Jordinson writes. “Archer and May’s brief disagreements over whether or not windows should be left open somehow say more about the state of their relationship than any number of screaming rows might have done. There are all kinds of similar telepathies with flowers sent and not sent, envelopes left empty, parties attended and avoided. There’s also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it ‘tremble’ in a library that changes the destiny of all the main characters in an instant. As a reader, the very act of decoding these messages immerses you ever deeper in the attitudes and customs of this strange world. It makes for a fascinating, engrossing experience.”
“A couple of years ago I attended a British Council discussion about the state of contemporary writing and the creative future in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. When someone brought up the dearth of memoirs in the Nigerian literary landscape, almost everyone in the room laughed ruefully. Someone joked aloud, ‘We can’t write memoirs. We’d have to wait for parents to die. Not just parents – everyone who knows us, even!’ This concern is not limited to nonfiction.” Bim Adewunmi writes for BuzzFeed on African immigrants’ stories.
Electric Literature held a Twitter contest recently in which their followers invented new literary neologisms for a chance to win copies of Carson Mell’s new e-book Saguaro. For my money, the clear winner was “Vonnegutsy: having the fortitude to mix aspects of genre fiction with literary fiction.”
At Page-Turner, Willing Davidson interviews Karen Russell, the newly minted MacArthur Genius, Swamplandia! author and 20 Under 40 alum. The conclusion this writer came to after reading their back-and-forth? The phrases “luck lightning” and “King Doomsday” need to be used more often. (FYI, we published our own interview with Russell back in February.)
“It is early August. A black man is shot by a white policeman. And the effect on the community is of “a lit match in a tin of gasoline.” No, this is not Ferguson, MO.” Laila Lalami reports for NPR on rereading James Baldwin‘s Notes of a Native Son in the context of Ferguson. Pair with Teju Cole‘s essay in The New Yorker about rereading Baldwin’s “Stranger in the Village.”