These conversations push Leonard outside his sister’s house and put him on a course complete with time travel, an unreadable ancient text, Jewish Mysticism, and an attractive reference librarian. And here’s where the trouble starts.
“Mature Themes, a collection of prose, poetry, and essays—doesn’t draw a cohesive biographical character so much as barrage its reader with an array of technicolor scenes, replete with camera flashes, expensive art, and totally fictional anecdotes about celebrities.”
Among the better tidbits from Gary Shteyngart’s diary of his book tour for Little Failure is the fact that he’s apparently had fellow Russian immigrants ask him to sign books for “a failed paralegal” and “a worse failure than even you.” If, after reading that, you’d like another dose of Shteyngart, you could do worse than his Year in Reading entry.
It was not long after his death in Marfa that Ambrose Bierce was killed near the village of Icamole when he and an Indian muleteer were the only ones who didn’t escape as Villa’s forces overran a party of government soldiers driving a mule train loaded with arms. This time Bierce was riding with the Federales. Both prisoners were executed by a firing squad under the orders of General Tomas Urbina. That’s what journalist James H. Wilkins asserted in his front-page article in San Francisco’s The Bulletin in March 1920. Wilkins had gone to Mexico and personally interviewed a witness who had managed to snatch a photo of a man—identified as Bierce—along with a few other personal possessions from the corpse before it was abandoned, unburied, in the desert.
Heading to London in the near future? Stop by the British Library’s new Terror and Wonder, which bills itself as the UK’s biggest Gothic exhibition in history. To whet your appetite, you can read thisGuardian piece by Neil Gaiman, in which the Sandman author names Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein the apex of Gothic fiction. Related: our own Hannah Gersen on Frankenstein and the “Year Without a Summer.”
Description is where the story is, and also where the postmodern complaint with the story is. It’s where the poetry of the writing is. Those writers of literary historical fiction over the past forty or fifty years who have become fed up with traditional, novelistic historical storytelling have often revived the Platonic quarrel with poetry, in questioning of the usefulness of that leap to fiction. Description, though, is what Flanagan revels in. He is a storyteller in the mythic sense, of lives determined by emotion, error, and turns of coincidence and fate.
I know a lot of people start writing early in the morning. I’ve tried it, and it’s not me. My mom always made me feel so lazy about sleeping in. I like to sleep late, and I’m so done feeling guilty about it.