It wasn’t long after ‘The Beast Attacked’ (in fact it was the next night) that Iglalik told the story, ‘A Bigger Beast Attacked Me Last Week.’ Another compelling tale, even if some felt it derivative. Iglalik added three crucial elements: he made the beast bigger, he told how he felt when the beast attacked, and he told us what he did: run away. Many of us, especially the younger listeners, thrilled to the added suspense and detail.
For Austrian novelist and short story writer Stefan Zweig (1881–1942), it is precisely those Habsburgian frivolities that define Vienna’s tragedy in their presence and absence alike. If The Third Man is cynical, Zweig’s is elegiac, beckoning us into a vanished world: a world of Baronesses and bibliophiles, gamblers, and actors — all suffering from the inevitable decline of their own personal eras of innocence.
Denmark has a new superstar, and he’s a poet named Yahya Hassan. At 18, Hassan has published a poetry collection that sold 100,000 copies in three months — a figure that, in Denmark, translates to one copy for every fifty residents. At the LARB, Pedja Jurisic delves into the young poet’s incendiary politics.
At the LARB, Millions contributor Nathan Deuel reviews Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball, which we covered as part of our Great 2014 Book Preview. Nathan calls the novel “daring and odd” and notes that, as the plot advances, “even we readers become slightly shaky witnesses.” You can learn more about Jesse Ball’s work in our own Janet Potter’sreview of his novel The Curfew.
"The trouble is that monsters have a lineage too, and our monsters have changed. Errol Childress is a quaint monster, a monster of convenience, a camp monster, a monster in drag. Monster, as every English professor likes to remind us, comes from the same root as demonstrate: a monster is supposed to mean, to signify, to instruct. Errol Childress has nothing to teach us, and neither does True Detective in its fond hope that these old manly genres can keep operating in the exhausted currency of mutilated women, or its insistence that evil somehow proclaims itself."
Through such experiments, Lee seems preoccupied by the need to make this familiar form something different from what we think it is, so that it can more capably capture a reality that has fast been veering into the unreal. It’s not just that the world outside the novel has made this jump, but also that we cannot evade the world’s strangeness when the storytellers, and the characters into which they breathe life, increasingly come from such different perspectives.
When my wife and I moved from New York City to Los Angeles last August, I felt a tremendous sense of relief. Not because I was happy to leave New York or entirely confident that we’d made the right decision, but because I was just so glad not to have to think about it anymore. I had spent the previous year locked in an ongoing internal debate about the merits and drawbacks of living in New York, trying to decide which of our problems would be solved by leaving and which ones would follow us around wherever we went. We constantly discussed moving, and when we saw friends we talked about it with them, too. In the end, we spent so much time thinking about leaving that it seemed like the only way to get on with our lives was to just do it. Which we did.
The book documents its time, a time when homosexuality was illegal, and still described in medical books as a mental illness. It is one of the best firsthand accounts of what it was like to be gay in the mid-20th century — ostracized — separate from the mainstream world. It reveals, through its characters, how young men couldn’t admit, even to themselves, that they were what society deemed perverted.