Books for a Post-‘Game of Thrones’ World

Game of Thrones is dead. Er, over. Oh no! What to read now? Over at Electric Literature, Seth D. Michaels has you covered, suggesting a list of books to read post-GoT that includes work by N.K. Jemisin, Nnedi Okorafor, and Kirstin Downey. “At its best,” Michaels writes, the original book series “is both a page-turning adventure and a revisionist fantasy, surfacing some of the hard questions underneath the tropes of the genre. Who has a legitimate claim on power, and what can they do with it? How does the past determine and constrain today? How can women exert power in a cruel and oppressive world? How do personal relationships shape politics, and vice-versa?”

In Defense of Unread Books

Do you feel like that pile of unread Tolstoy and Márquez on your bedside table is mocking you? Fear not. According to Karen Hopkin at Scientific American, just the presence of those books is enough to encourage literary habits. “What we were able to demonstrate,” states sociologist Joanna Sikora, “was that people who grew up around books had better literacy, numeracy and digital problem-solving skills than people who had fewer books growing up but had similar education levels, similar jobs and even similar adult habits in terms of reading or engaging in various numeracy-enhancing activities.”

Image credit: Abhi Sharma

Karen Russell, Short Story Sorcerer

For the release of her new collection, Orange World, Karen Russell spoke to Brian Gresko at Poets & Writers on supernatural metaphors for motherhood, lonely mutants, and the pleasures of world-building. “With short stories it feels possible to hop across time zones and zip into new skins; also to take risks that I think would prove unsustainable for the length of a novel,” Russell says. “World-building is such a pleasure for me, as a writer and as a reader, and I love story collections because they feel like a miniature universe, with all these interrelated worlds-in-progress.”

Daniel José Older and Marlon James Aren’t Genre Snobs

For LitHub’s Fiction/Non/Fiction podcast, Marlon James and Daniel José Older talk genre (as in, according to James, “that thing creative writing programs don’t know how to teach”), gender identity in ancient Africa, and James’s deep-seated love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Plus, Older discusses the process for his book Dactyl Hill Squad: “There’s so many amazing stories of people of color resisting, and finding different ways to fight for freedom throughout, whether in New York, or all over this country, in Mexico…And kids aren’t growing up learning about them because of white supremacy, and it’s hurting us. And they don’t get to see themselves as heroes or protagonists, either in history or in fantasy. And this is a way of bringing those stories to life.”

Walt Whitman: Bottled and Brewed

Walt Whitman once wrote, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” The poet’s wide reach will soon be showcased by Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo, Mich., which is releasing a series of seven beers in tribute to Whitman’s famous poetry collection Leaves of Grass. Each brew is named after an iconic line from the work, and the first one, “Song of Myself,” is a “a German-inspired American IPA.” The first beer will be released in July, so until then, you can brush up on Leaves of Grass, “a marvel of enigmatic charm.”

Image credit: Bell’s Brewery

What Is Camp?

If you’re into that kind of thing, you may have watched the Met Gala this week with a mix of horror, fascination, and one nudging complaint: That’s not camp! There have been about a million articles published on the subject since then, so here are just a few: For The Guardian, Jon Savage provides a brief(-ish) history of camp; for LARB, Alex Weintraub reviews the Met’s Costume Institute catalog; for Refinery29, Channing Hargrove delves into the history of black camp, and notes its exclusion from the Met’s camp exhibit. But maybe you’ve never fully understood what camp is, even if you’ve read that oft-cited Sontag essay. In that case, Kelly Connaboy helpfully offers this explanation, over at The Cut: “The Met Gala, which is not the Mets Gala, is camp-themed this year, which is not camp, like, going camping, but camp like the aesthetic style “camp,” which is somewhat difficult to define but includes elements of irony, humor, parody, pastiche, artifice, theatricality, and exaggeration; it makes you at once laugh and say oooahhhh, yikes! Lady Gaga is one of the Met Gala’s co-chairs. The B-52’s rule.” Does that help?

Photo credit: ©Lynn Gilbert

Love and Rockets, Once More

For the release of Is This How You See Me?, the latest in the venerated Love and Rockets canon, artist Jaime Hernandez speaks to Carolina A. Miranda for the Los Angeles Times about revisiting old characters, punk music, Latinx stereotypes, and Maggie and Hopey’s origin story: “I’d go to these punk shows and I’d see women running the place and I loved their big mouths. They were doing something and they didn’t care. I wanted my Betty and Veronica, but with that mentality, with this real life kind of of thing going on. Gilbert and I were like, nobody’s doing this — let’s show the world that the world we come from is waaaay more interesting than a Marvel comic.”