Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends. Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.
The first step in containing the potential for trauma is safety. The second is to welcome the injured and fearful, the grief-stricken and the shocked back into the fold. This is animal logic—trauma research has found that prey animals, upon escape, need to rejoin the group and discharge their nervous energy, the stress hormones that kept them alive.
For me, part of that exploration involved questioning what we mean when we use terms like “evil” and “crime.” Defining either can be a murky task, but is especially so in wartime. I think, for instance, that it’s dangerous to use a blanket label like “evil” when thinking about an enemy—even in as egregious an example as the Nazis. In doing so, you risk distancing yourself to the point of losing sight of the potential universality of what happened in Germany.…In my opinion, what’s truly important to remember is just how easily—even casually—that evil occurred. And that it can occur again any time, in any nation (ours included), and at the hands of people who in all other respects are just like the rest of us.
The Rumpus Interview With Jennifer Cody Epstein, author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment
Sometimes contemporary culture, Internet culture particularly, seems like a kind of Mexican standoff of weaponized irony.
My goal each night was to drink until I could no longer feel my feet throbbing. I succeeded in this, amply. Drinks just kept appearing in front of me so I did the responsible thing and drank them. This made mornings rough.
You’ll read Roxane Gay’s dispatch from AWP if you know what’s good for you.
You heard The Rumpus. Go read it.
“My school was on fire. It was exhilarating. Fire trucks were whipping their sirens around, and my whole high school was out on the football field, chattering excitedly, whispering in little groups, because we were missing class, and oh my goodness, firemen! The headmaster came onto the green lawn and waved for our attention. He used a megaphone to make an announcement. I was barely listening. I was looking at the buildings, trying to see smoke.”
- Delaney Nolan, “I Was a Teenage Arsonist”