To my mind, it’s one of the deepest gratifications the poet or fiction writer knows. I mean, the internal stumbling upon some satisfactory answer to the question, What is this like? Or, What does this remind me of? A comparison is laboriously but successfully introduced. You meet your metaphor, and it’s good.
No book is dangerous in and of itself. A book is only a collection of words in a certain order, pages, screens, a sequence of ideas. Ideas alone can never hurt us. People only make ideas dangerous by fearing and hating them, and by vilifying and persecuting those who disagree with them. In this way, the association of a writer with his ideas can be very dangerous, even deadly. You stand a reasonably good chance of denying ever having read a book, but it’s a great deal harder to hide from having written one.
If you received a text from an unknown number saying, “sup you comnig to this thing?”, would you respond? Michael Cera imagines the ensuing conversation in his epistolary humor piece, “My Man Jeremy,” for The New Yorker. Depending on how you feel about the actor, the piece is either endearingly awkward or annoying, but it’s very Cera — complete with anxiety and references to how he always gets mixed up with fellow “Shouts & Murmurs” contributor Jesse Eisenberg.
If the novels of the twentieth and twenty-first century seem to lack certain qualities that their predecessors possessed (and they certainly do, for better as well as for worse), the explanation is not that life itself—let alone feminism—rendered the subject of love obsolete. The truth is that I get a sinking feeling each time I encounter the marriage-plot argument. It condescends to novels like Austen’s, treating them as mere romances, and, while making much of novels like “Madame Bovary” and “Anna Karenina,” it locates their power in what I think is least interesting about them. Literary depth is too often equated with a sort of journalistic idea of “seriousness,” as if depth were achieved by taking on “issues” like hypocritical attitudes toward female adulterers. But depth is a subtle, wily quality, one that often resides simply in an author’s ability to see into his or her characters—to see beyond self-delusion and pretension and personal mythmaking and reveal them to us with a richness that we don’t often experience outside of fiction.
In 2006, Gene Luen Yang became the first graphic novelist to be nominated for a National Book Award. Yang earned a nomination in the Young People’s Literature category for the graphic novel American Born Chinese. Now Yang has been nominated a second time, again in the Young People’s Literature category, for a new book, Boxers and Saints. Francoise Mouly and Mina Kaneko talk with Yang at Page-Turner. (You can also read our interview.)
Photographers who are tired of weddings should start shooting book covers. When New Directions asked to use one of Allen Frame’s photos for the cover of Robert Bolaño’s Last Evenings on Earth, he gave them access to his archive instead. Today, nine Frame photos have been used on Bolaño book covers. You can view them here or at New York City’s Gitterman Gallery.
But I’m not going to complain about Britain’s “lack of a service culture”—it’s one of the things I cherish about the place. I don’t think any nation should elevate service to the status of culture. At best, it’s a practicality, to be enacted politely and decently by both parties, but no one should be asked to pretend that the intimate satisfaction of her existence is servicing you, the “guest,” with a shrimp sandwich wrapped in plastic. If the choice is between the antic all-singing, all-dancing employees in New York’s Astor Place Pret-A-Manger and the stony-faced contempt of just about everybody behind a food counter in London (including all the Prets), I wholeheartedly opt for the latter. We are subject to enough delusions in this life without adding to them the belief that the girl with the name tag is secretly in love with us.
'Do you have the key for this lock?' she asked Samsa.
‘I haven’t the slightest idea where the key is,’ he answered honestly.
‘Ah, Gregor Samsa, sometimes you make me want to die,’ she said.