At the Paris Review, author Rumaan Alam discusses his suspenseful new book, Leave the World Behind, and the efficiency of genre writing. “I think there is a prevailing snobbery about writing horror or thriller, ‘genre fiction,’ that it’s fundamentally less serious. I don’t think that’s true. Because, in the end, it’s really about building a very efficient machine in order to achieve a very specific goal,” he says. “The author wants to make you quake. He wants to make you shiver. He wants to terrify you. Literary fiction is a genre all its own, with its own expectations and conventions, and the aim is less often to elicit that emotional response. It’s more often about doing something compelling on the level of language or style—it’s a different kind of endeavor. But I don’t think that means one is better than the other.”
As part of the River to River Festival, poet Jon Cotner has put together a “floating world,” or a map of Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō’s work transposed onto Rockefeller Park. Each hour, Cotner will lead a tour through the world. This isn’t the first time Cotner’s done something cool like this, either. Check out our dispatch from his “Poem Forest” last year.
New this week is Marilynne Robinson’s collection of essays When I Was a Child I Read Books. Also out are Arcadia by Lauren Groff, The Vanishers by Heidi Julavits, and The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin. Finally, the collected writings of the late and beloved critic John Leonard, Reading for My Life, is now out.
“Nathan Englander’s characters have invented ‘the Anne Frank game’ whose major question is ‘who would hide you if there were another Holocaust.’ By making this a game, the characters demonstrate their affective distance from the event, but at the same time Englander illustrates that the Holocaust remains a touchstone for the marijuana-smoking, Orthodox Jews who bring the game to their secular Jewish friends.” On the fictional afterlife of Anne Frank.
The New Yorker has been hosting a Twitter game show, and this time around the contestants were words and in a macabre turn each word was berated by the audience, the people calling out for the death of that contestant. One word was forced to ultimately bite the bullet and will no longer be welcome in the magazine’s next issue. Tragic.
The upcoming Supreme Court decision on gay marriage is drawing a lot of attention. But what about the other ruling — the one aimed at grizzled old men? At The Onion, a report on Justice Alito’s recent decision, which tersely states that marriage is a pact between a man and the sea.
On this sad aniversary, the Pioneer Press provides a small selection of 9/11 books and movies.Ed does a great job reviewing Haruki Murakami’s new collection Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kudos to him for penning a thoughtful and thorough review.The AP writes up a new video game based on the Christian apocolyptic Left Behind series of books. The novels have sold more than 63 million copies according to the story.This made me a little queasy: A teacher in Hurst, Texas has ignited an interest in reading among her students by having them all read a book together… James Patterson’s young adult thriller Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment. Whatever it takes, I suppose.
Recently, we featured five writers’ reminisces about the novels they ultimately shelved. Here a sixth, Elmo Keep, explains what led her to throw away her first novel, quite outside considerations of craft:”I could not resolve the conflict of a story that was not mine.”