At Time, Tracy K. Smith discusses her newest poetry collection, Such Color, whose poems allowed her to face this past year and a half with a sense of peace. “Lately, it feels like, is a future even possible?” Smith asks. “That’s the question, but all of those things—joy, humor, and the hope that a future might be possible—have long existed to sustain communities of people who are imperiled in some way. Not as an escape, but as a way of saying, you and your body and your story, matter. That you are vital, necessary, and you are loved in some way. And that’s a way of keeping going.”
Following a long battle with cancer, David Rakoff died Thursday night at the age of 47. Rakoff recently delivered a novel entitled Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die; Cherish, Perish to Doubleday, and fans can look out for it next year. Reflections on Rakoff’s life and legacy can be read courtesy of Jason Diamond and Choire Sicha, and two of Rakoff’s best This American Life pieces can be found here and here.
Recently, it seemed hard to find a book not blurbed by Gary Shteyngart. He did blurb 150 books in the past decade. Yet now the author has decided to mostly retire from blurbing, he announced in The New Yorker. “Literature can and will go on without my mass blurbing. Perhaps it may even improve.” Pair with: Our own Bill Morris’s essay on whether or not to blurb.
“Hoaxers make it seem like things are as bad as we fear they are, and they often, especially now, play on our fears rather than our wishes.” The Rumpus interviewed New Yorker Poetry Editor Kevin Young about the inspiration behind his new book, Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News. Pair with Young’s Year in Reading entry and our review of Bunk.
Over at McSweeney’s, Sarah Solomon has undertaken the Sisyphean task of bringing existentialism into the twenty-first century. In a series of brief vignettes, Solomon gives the oft-maligned Millennial generation the existentialist makeover they never asked for. Continue your study of the absolute indifference of the universe with this essay by Zach Pontz on The Meursault Investigation, a new novel by Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud that imagines Albert Camus’s famous The Stranger from the perspective of the unnamed Arab antagonists.