What do you do when McSweeney’s rejects your humor piece? You could, like most people, slink off and write something new, perhaps after a quick look at the site to get a better sense of what they’re looking for, or you could write a new humor piece about getting rejected byMcSweeney’s. At The Nervous Breakdown, Rachel Pollan takes the latter route (with a cameo by the movie Swingers).
Whoever utters ‘Kafkaesque’ has neither fathomed nor intuited nor felt the impress of Kafka’s devisings. If there is one imperative that ought to accompany any biographical or critical approach, it is that Kafka is not to be mistaken for the Kafkaesque. The Kafkaesque is what Kafka presumably “stands for”—an unearned, even a usurping, explication. And from the very start, serious criticism has been overrun by the Kafkaesque, the lock that portends the key: homoeroticism for one maven, the father-son entanglement for another, the theological uncanny for yet another. Or else it is the slippery commotion of time; or of messianism; or of Thanatos as deliverance. The Kafkaesque, finally, is reductiveness posing as revelation.
I don’t know where I write. Couldn’t begin to tell you. I’m not being coy, I’m serious. I look at my books, the piles of uncollected work, and they just seem to have appeared. I can’t create any images to go with my sense of ownership. When it comes to where I write, my memory is completely unreliable. All I know for sure is where I am now, which of course, won’t be true when you read this.
Now, I ask you, what if all along it was as simple as joining this company to fill the part of me missing? What if some deranged wiring or disease has forced me to isolate myself away instead of considering being part of a team like the one here at your company? I feel pretty good right now, and I’m not even officially part of anything. Just even filling out this application is fixing me.
Following up their publication of Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches” online, the Oxford American brings us a speech in verse by Jay Jennings, the editor of a recent compilation of Portis’s work (which our own Bill Morris reviewed). Jennings eulogized Portis to mark the late author winning the Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. Sample quote: “But you read the next book because the main character was from Little Rock,/and you knew no other book where the main character was from Little Rock/and you wanted to write a book about Little Rock.”
When Damien Searls first read W.G. Sebald, he thought the German writer was uniquely good at factoring historical circumstance into his thinking. Sebald’s unyielding reminders of the horrors of the past were a nice corrective to the feel-good pablums of the ‘90s. But reading Sebald now, Searls thinks something has changed. What happened? The world went online. (Related:Greg Walklin on Sebald’s A Place in the Country.)
At this point, it’s perversity that keeps me writing.