A handy database of what appears to be all the fiction that has run in the New Yorker. Have fun with the tag function: “Dogs” appears 82 times; “Cats” 38 times; “prisoners” seven times; “littering” once.
I haven’t read a romance novel in forever, but I’ll read anything Jessica Tripler writes about the genre. She considers A Visit From the Goon Squad though that filter: “It struck me that the dominant emotion in VGS is one not so often encountered in romance: shame…. [T]he kind of abject shame so many of VGS characters inhabit is not one that makes for a romantic read. I think the difference is that in romance, the shame is either (a) not really earned (it’s really a virtue in disguise), or (b) centers on a character flaw that gets fixed in the narrative (the cop who is afraid of commitment, for example). The shame in VGS is, at one and the same time, both unique to the characters and universal.”
Gertrude Stein gets an iPhone: “Stopping everything is something. Stopping everything and stopping all of that thing is something. Stopping everything and then doing nothing in stopping everything is something.” (via)
Egyptian translator Hala Salah Eldin Hussein: “I have recently been contemplating the value of literature in these times, where your step in Tahrir Square—protesting and demanding civil rights—should be more valuable than translating fiction. Can fiction really take second place after revolutionary activism? How can fiction help us in a time of political unrest? Should I stay in my office finishing this marvelous piece by Susan Straight, or should I just go out with my fellow countrymen, six hours or more every day, in the square? It seems that translating political articles will be of more use to the revolution, but for the time being I’ll keep the belief that a day translating Lorrie Moore or Edward P. Jones will teach me how to be a better human being, I’ll get to see the world in its true colours, I’ll learn about myself, others and humanity.”
Andrew Seal isn’t blogging these days, alas, but his very busy Tumblr, Fuck Yeah, Historiography, is stuffed with gems from texts on American literature, sociology, political history, and more.
Lynne Tillman: “I think it’s true that unless human beings experience something, they simply don’t understand what people are going through. Now that I am conscious of the world of chronic pain, when I see somebody walking down the street who’s having trouble, I feel a sadness for them. I notice. I’m very lucky that I could get a hip replacement.” (via)
“If you really want to publish a book one day you will publish a book. The time that you spend getting there is kind of wonderful. Don’t cut it short. The emotional range is valuable.”
Robert Pinsky unearths a document listing three reasonable rules for writing a book review.
On Tobias Wolff‘s debut novel, 1975’s Ugly Rumours, which few know about and which the author himself is disinclined to discuss.
Defending Herman Melville‘s poetry.
We will always want narratives, but will we always want endings?
John Steinbeck‘s affection for Arthurian England.
Dept. of Sausage Making: Stuart Dybek and an editor discuss whether the name of a public housing project in one of his stories needs some additional explanation. (via)
Well put, by Rae Bryant: “One of the masteries in Nabokov’s stories, what I admire so much, is how smoothly the stories turn readers into accomplices.”
Somewhat less well put: “Maybe Vladimir Nabokov wasn’t referring to America’s favorite confectionery on a stick when he wrote Lolita,’ but he should have been.”