At the Paris Review, Anuk Arudpragasam discusses his novel, A Passage North, and how he relates to the reading habits of his main character, Krishan. “I think a lot through texts,” he says. “I often refer to a line or a passage or a moment as a way to explain to somebody how I’m feeling or to refer to something I want to communicate. These moments expand my memory of life. They’re like faint memories that I can always use to compare to my present experience.”
Over at Catapult, Mensah Demary shares the story of how he got to be a professional editor. As he puts it, “I was asked recently what it takes to succeed as a writer and editor. Actually, I was being asked a more specific question: how do you become a successful writer and editor? I don’t have the answers; I only have my life.” Pair with Kate Angus’s Millions essay on making a living as a poet.
Celebrate literary journal Asymptote’s third anniversary in New York City later this month. The event will feature Eliot Weinberger, Jeffrey Yang (translator of Liu Xiaobo), Paris Review poetry editor Robyn Creswell, Idra Novey (translator of Clarice Lispector), and Daniella Gitlin (translator of Rodolfo Walsh). They will come together for a panel discussion on translation and readings. The event starts at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 21 at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe.
In the 1880s, a group of rural Illinoisans formed a Christian sect that believed that a local woman, Dorinda Beekman, was the new Jesus Christ. When Mrs. Beekman died, a follower of hers claimed that her spirit lived inside him; as the new leader of the sect, he moved his followers into a barn and named it Heaven. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Visel looks back on this odd chapter of history, as well as the novel it inspired. (Related: Eric Shonkwiler on the literature of the Midwest.)
Out this week: Friendship by Emily Gould; God Is an Astronaut by Alyson Foster; How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky by Lydia Netzer; The Actress by Amy Sohn; Last Night at the Blue Angel by Rebecca Rotert; The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob; Three Light-Years by Andrea Canobbio; The Sacred River by Wendy Wallace; The Great Glass Sea by Josh Weil; and a previously unpublished short story by Samuel Beckett.
“In another experiment, people who went through this ‘experience-taking’ process while reading about a character who was revealed to be of a different race or sexual orientation showed more favorable attitudes toward the other group and were less likely to stereotype.”
Seeing as yesterday was Donald Barthelme’s birthday, it’s as good a time as any to remember the short fiction icon. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reads Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing,” which you can find in the author’s collection of essays and interviews. Sample quote: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”