Do you know why teachers use me? Because I speak in tongues. I write metaphors. Every one of my stories is a metaphor you can remember. The great religions are all metaphor. We appreciate things like Daniel and the lion’s den, and the Tower of Babel. People remember these metaphors because they are so vivid you can’t get free of them and that’s what kids like in school. They read about rocket ships and encounters in space, tales of dinosaurs. All my life I’ve been running through the fields and picking up bright objects. I turn one over and say, Yeah, there’s a story.
In his novels and plays, Sebastian Barry often focuses on segment of Irish society that tends to get ignored in literature — the Irishmen who fought for the British Empire in the first and second World Wars. At Full-Stop, John Cussen reads The Temporary Gentleman, which portrays a British officer, Jack McNulty, who sets out to write his memoirs. (Related: Matt Kavanagh wrote a piece for The Millions on Irish financial fiction after the crash of 2008.)
In addition to just wanting to spend a lot of time together, we had some questions we hoped this trip might answer, questions we hope to chew over here, in near-daily posts: What does the Great American Road trip look like in 2014? Is it true that the book tour is as good as dead, a waste of time? Is this about selling books or something less tangible? What will we see as we cut a line through the center of a recession-slammed America? Can we sit in a car together for 13,000 minutes and come out better buddies, or will one of us, probably somewhere in Utah, turn to the other and mutter, ‘I really really wish I could quit you’?
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.
After visiting more than 2,000 of America’s independent bookstores, Kate Brittain found herself thinking their demise might not be so inevitable. The cards, she writes, remain stacked against them, but they nonetheless offer a few things that may well keep them in demand. Pair with: our tribute to e-book pioneer Michael Hartt.