At Ploughshares, Elizabeth Gonzalez James reflects on why she finds herself reading the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke in the midst of lockdown and how it’s a salve to her feelings of confusion and frustration. “I’ve found myself turning to these poems again and again over the last year,” James writes. “Rilke’s longing for God mirrors my own longing for meaning amid so much tragedy. And though in this last year I have often, or more likely have been always filled with some mixture of condemnation, anger, and doubt, Rilke’s words give me space to release myself from the prison of my own feelings, and offer an alternative, even curative, way to live in the world. ‘Let everything happen to you,’ he writes, ‘beauty and terror. / Just keep going. No feeling is final. / Don’t let yourself lose me.'”
Five finalists have been named for this year’s PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: Daniel Alarcón’s At Night We Walk in Circles, Percival Everett’s Percival Everett by Virgil Russell, Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, (Year in Reading alum) Joan Silber’s Fools, and Valerie Trueblood’s Search Party: Stories of Rescue. One winner will be selected on April 2, 2014, and a celebratory dinner will be held in its honor on May 10. You can read up on all of the finalists over here.
This week in lit news: VIDA, the organization that’s been counting appearances by women writers in major literary journals since 2010, will expand their 2014 count to include data on race/ethnicity.
Last week, I pointed to former Millions-er Emily M. Keeler’s review of Wolf in White Van, the new novel by John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats. Now, at Slate, Carl Wilson offers his own praise of the book, which he describes as “not the kind of rallying cry or dark comfort that Mountain Goats fans are used to, but a complex meditation.”
Incredible interview with the New Yorker’s Jon Lee Anderson. He tells about the time he was arrested in Guinea and accused of being a spy. Happens to journalists all the time, you say? No, this was when he was thirteen. If he ever writes a memoir, publishers will be lining up. (via Jenny)I thoroughly enjoyed Ed’s account of a near-drink with William T. Vollmann.Golden Rule Jones has a lovely new home. Be sure to update your bookmarks and feed readers.Interesting article about a promotional push by The Economist in Baltimore. A few years ago, I started hearing people talk about The Economist all the time. I wasn’t sure if the magazine was getting more popular or if I was just traveling in different circles. This quote clears it up: “Of The Economist’s worldwide circulation of just less than 1.1 million, Rossi said, North America accounts for a bit more than half, at 569,336, a figure that has increased 47.3 percent since 2001.” Wow, that’s a big jump. They deserve it. It’s a great magazine. If I had more time, I’d read every issue all the way through.
An intrepid (or sadistic?) YouTube user created a “No Cry Challenge” video playlist composed of nineteen videos that will surely punch you in the gut. These things are heavy and heart wrenching. I don’t want to mislead you at all: they could very well ruin your entire week. The first one in the queue is especially devastating; I recommend doing it last. After you watch a couple, go outside and take a walk. Hug a family member, a pet or a friend. (via)
In light of this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, which had Indonesia as the official guest of honor, check out Wayan Sunarta’s essay on the rise of Indonesian literature abroad. As he explains it, “Although Indonesian literature is in the ascendant at home, it has so far failed to establish itself internationally. The number of works translated from Indonesian is still very small.”