At the Believer, Raven Leilani, author of Luster, discusses her desire to write Black women who actively resist conforming to society’s preconceptions about them. “I wanted to afford a Black woman the latitude to be fallible,” she says. “I wanted to write against the idea that there is a particular way to comport yourself to earn the right to empathy. Black women are especially subject to this expectation, and I think to have to expertly navigate racist and sexist terrain to survive and be denied the right to a human response is to deny that person dignity. It’s a recipe for a repressed, combustible person. I’ve been there, and I’m still unlearning that reflexive curation as we speak, so it was a relief to write a Black woman who leads with her id. It was a relief to write toward her want and rage without apology, which is, unfortunately, what some people might find unlikeable.”
…meanwhile, quondam neighbor Jonathan Lethem has packed up for California (to take over the Pomona College position last held by David Foster Wallace). Just in time for Halloween, he raps with New York Magazine about the move…and about his new, book-length treatment of John Carpenter‘s They Live.
Masha Gessen will be the first writer to publish a book about the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Previously the author demonstrated her knowledge of Chechnya in her 2012 book The Man Without a Face. Gessen, who is also working on a book about embattled punk group Pussy Riot, will reportedly leave her directorship at Moscow Radio Liberty in order to report on both projects full time.
“Over three decades of almost constant composing and recording, he would amass over sixty LPs, running the gamut from early records with his band the Mothers of Invention that helped to create the milieu we think of as the Sixties, to caustic send-ups of that same counterculture, doo-wop pastiche, tape cut-ups, film scores, gonzo cabaret, big-band charts, way out prog, show tunes, music composed entirely on and for the Synclavier digital sampler, full-score orchestral music, and thousands of scabrous, exploratory guitar solos.” On Frank Zappa, music theory wizard and occasional public intellectual.