Parents, partners, relatives, friends: someday you will watch a person you care about suffer. It’s not so much that last shovelful of dirt on the grave that should terrify us, but emptying all those bedpans.
Storytelling has always been an antidote to the fear of what we don’t know or understand.
According to the foreword in a 1978 reprint, ‘Agent of Chaos is extremely popular with convicts’ and ‘certain sectors of the radical political left’. But the novel’s libertarian anarchism seems more in tune these days with the mainstream political right. In 1999, Spinrad said: ‘I’m an anarchist – but I’m a syndicalist. You have to have organised anarchy, because otherwise it doesn’t work.’ The real Boris Johnson has said his ideal form of government would be a ‘rules-based anarchy’.
What happens when a literary fiction writer tackles YA? If that writer is Sherman Alexie, he produces an award-winning book that rivals the quality of his books in other genres. At the Ploughshares blog, Annie Cardi writes about writers who’ve made this transition, including Alexie, Roddy Doyle and Louise Erdrich. You could also read our survey of high school students on the best YA books of 2013.
In the 1880s, a group of rural Illinoisans formed a Christian sect that believed that a local woman, Dorinda Beekman, was the new Jesus Christ. When Mrs. Beekman died, a follower of hers claimed that her spirit lived inside him; as the new leader of the sect, he moved his followers into a barn and named it Heaven. At The Paris Review Daily, Dan Visel looks backon this odd chapter of history, as well as the novel it inspired. (Related: Eric Shonkwiler on the literature of the Midwest.)
The end of the Church Triumphant is predictable. The Angels started bearing children; this was declared to be a miracle, their fathers being the Holy Ghost, but the locals noticed that many were suspiciously red-haired. After too many Holy Ghost Children, Schweinfurth was arrested and driven from town. Later, he announced that he’d taken up Christian Science and moved to Chicago, where he became a realtor, thereafter vanishing from history.
Liked watching Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk last year? Then consider picking up a copy of We Should All Be Feminists. The longform essay, now published as an ebook original, was adapted from topics Adichie touched upon in her speech, among them the importance of being a feminist in the twenty-first century. You could also look back on Adichie’s Year in Reading piece.
This is the inside joke of creative writing programs in America. We know creative writing doesn’t make money, and yet we continue to graduate talented writers with no business acumen. At best, it is misguided. At worst, it is fraudulent.
You’re a young man from the provinces and you’ve just arrived in Paris to make your fortune. You have big dreams, but no skills to speak of.
Your boyish charm and feminine hips have attracted the attention of a wealthy woman and/or a sinister homosexual criminal who will someday become the chief of police.
Your face is so complicated that it takes three pages to describe.
There’s a woman you’d like to sleep with, so you decide to tell her an off-putting story about murder, castration, or bestiality.