At the Paris Review, Courtney Zoffness discusses her book, Spilt Milk, with Lynn Steger Strong, and how writing it was an exercise in embracing uncertainty. “Endings are so deceptive,” Zoffness says. “That final period gives the illusion of resolution or conclusion when my thoughts and feelings on nearly every subject and experience in Spilt Milk remain unresolved. I think that one of the aims of an essay is to ask questions, not necessarily answer them, and I try to embed this spirit of inquiry in each piece, to be transparent about my own internal conflicts or uncertainty along the way—whether over parental choices or astrology or my feelings about other people. I want to show messiness. This approach hopefully trains readers not to expect a resolution, but it can also make it harder for me to discern the right endnote. Several of these endings gelled through trial and error.”
“Imaginary Oklahoma” is an ongoing platform at This Land Press in which “some of today’s most important and influential writers combine with artists from outside the state [of Oklahoma] to provide a fictional take on this place we call home.” New Yorker editor, author of Celebrity Chekhov, and chart enthusiast Ben Greenman has written a piece entitled “Always and Forever.”
You should check out George Saunders’s “Liner Notes” piece about “2776: A Musical Journey Through America’s Past, Present & Future,” which is set to accompany a forthcoming musical-comedy album from Patton Oswalt, Aubrey Plaza, Ira Glass, and Yo La Tengo, among others. If that hasn’t sold you, consider the fact that Saunders’s piece contains this line: “Truth be told, there were a number of regrettable omissions. Beyoncé and Jay Z’s piece ‘Bomber’ had to be left off the album. (‘Driver of this plane, this / B-52 on the way to Nagasaki / Stuff your ears with cotton and / Close those eyes / Me and my man are about to do it all over this / Here bomb’).”
Over at Public Books, Jared Gardner explores the theme of pain and illness at the heart of many graphic narratives. As he explains it, “Illness, mental and physical, is arguably comics’ invisible master theme, deeply woven into their genome and shaping the stories they tell, from the earliest newspaper strips (chronic allergies in Winsor McCay’s Little Sammy Sneeze) through the rise of superhero comics (from Batman’s PTSD in 1939 through the Fantastic Four’s radiation poisoning in 1961).” Pair with Paul Morton’s Millions piece on the history of Marvel Comics.