At Asymptote Journal, E.J. Koh discusses her memoir, The Magical Language of Others, and shares why the collective memory plays a big role in how she writes about loss and trauma. “There are many kinds of losses that must be imagined,” Koh says. “The loss of the dead and the loss for remaining alive. There is a braiding that happens between testimony and reparation, imagination and reconciliation. There is also the changing of names, from the location of the atrocity to the date when it took place, as a braiding. There are many kinds of truths from victims, scholars, perpetrators, but also the dead. There is the imagination to fathom a war and the imagination to live in its aftermath. It is possible to avoid difficult subjects, but they need not be avoided.”
New this week are Mark Haddon’s The Red House, Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, John Lanchester’s Capital, and a collection of essays from Colm Tóibín, New Ways to Kill Your Mother: Writers and Their Families. Michael Ondaatje’s The Cat’s Table is now out in paperback.
Kickstarters for creative projects run the gamut from endeavors like Star Citizen to requests for food or rent money to let a writer finish a novel. In between those extremes is this, a charmingly eccentric children’s book titled Pete Peanut and the Trouble with Birthdays, which needs help covering the costs of its ambitious design. You can also buy tailor-made birthday invitations or the title character’s own furniture.
David Kurnick explores what makes Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels so addictive. As he puts it, “In Ferrante we see what grand novelistic ambition looks like devoid of writerly vanity.” Pair with Cora Currier’s essay on reading Italy through Ferrante’s books.
2012 could be the year that we get to know Sergei Dovlatov, and our own Sonya Chung may have played a role. Her 2009 piece on the forgotten Russian humorist helped land one of his stories in PEN America. Soon we started seeing Dovlatov mentioned everywhere, and last year, Counterpoint published The Suitcase, and now The Zone will be released this week. Other new releases this week: An Available Man by Hilma Wolitzer, Heft by Liz Moore, and The Evening Hour, a debut novel by Carter Sickels.