New York just expects so much from a girl—acts like it can’t stand even the idea of a wasted talent or opportunity. And Miss Adele had been around. Rome says: enjoy me. London: survive me. New York: gimme all you got. What a thrilling proposition! The chance to be “all that you might be.” Such a thrill—until it becomes a burden. To put a face on—to put a self on—this had once been, for Miss Adele, pure delight. And part of the pleasure had been precisely this: the buying of things. She used to love buying things! Lived for it! Now it felt like effort, now if she never bought another damn thing again she wouldn’t even—
Recommended Reading: The Paris Review has put its Zadie Smith short story “Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets" online. "New York just expects so much from a girl—acts like it can’t stand even the idea of a wasted talent or opportunity. And Miss Adele had been around.”
Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.
Leslie Jamison’s new collection of essays, The Empathy Exams, demonstrates the kind of connection Orwell describes: she manages to bridge that ‘gulf of language and tradition’ and meet her subjects ‘in utter intimacy’ like Orwell does, whether they’re imprisoned long-distance runners, sufferers from a possibly imaginary disease, or writers living in some of the most violent places in Mexico.
Ryan Teitman, ”Fellow Creatures: Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams”
Earlier in the week a neighbor on their floor had been shoving his garbage down the chute, his head hidden by the open door to the tiny chute room. He must have heard her walking down the hall, and he silently reached out his hand to take her garbage without showing his face. She was grateful he didn’t look at her, since she’d just smeared Carmex across her lips and had her hair up in a clip. She was wearing, right out of the box, a newly arrived sweater she had admired on her sister, who had then sweetly bought the same one for her online. It looked awful on her—since her coloring was completely different from her sister’s—and she wondered why the color was called “silver lake,” since it was more of a faded green suburban-house-paint shade. It was too big on her but that was fine, since she still had some baby fat. She wondered why she was having all these moments involving garbage with men other than Sam. What did it mean?
Every night the sounds were different. Helplessly cognizant, I formed mental scenarios while drifting in and out of sleep. One memorable night, I tossed and turned in a metalworking shop. From the far end of the second-floor hallway came the powerful rip of my mother-in-law’s rough-cut saw. From below, on the living room’s foldout couches, the intermittent thrum of welders’ torches—a wild hissing as the sisters’ noses sparked and soldered invisible objects. Beside me, Elida’s finishing touch: the high-pitched burr of a polisher perfecting a metal surface. Elida was slight, and she dressed in precise, quiet colors. She sat with her hands folded, wore clear nail polish and almost undetectable makeup. You would never have imagined that such a stark little person could produce such sounds
Recommended Reading: Louise Erdrich’s new short story in The New Yorker, “The Big Cat,” which is about snoring among other things. Deborah Treisman also interviewed Erdrich about the story. “I like the idea that this story reads like a fairy tale, but there is no moral at all, unless it’s Beware of Snoring Cats. Nothing I write ever has a moral.”
I do really strongly believe that to spend time examining a writer’s work for insights into her private life is missing the mark,” she wrote to The Millions recently about the media impulse to dig for dirt when a woman produces a chilling book. Still, 13 years after the publication of Loverboy, adapted in 2006 into a movie by the same name that starred Kevin Bacon, she continues, she admits, to field public concern. “At readings, there’s always someone who raises their hand and asks, ‘Do you have children?’” (Redel, 54, has two grown sons from her former marriage: Jonah, 25, and Gabriel, 21.) “I began to say, ‘Yes,’ she adds, ‘but I don’t have a garage.’
Susan Comninos, “The Dark Quotient: On Victoria Redel and Destructive Characters”
There are two kinds of novelists, the peckish and the ravenous: those who fastidiously nibble on the pie of human experience (Jane Austen), and those who gorge themselves on its hearty filling (Emily Bronte). (There are also two kinds of pies, but no matter.) I first started making such judgments after a sharp hunger pang interrupted my reading of Chad Harbach’s MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction. Reaching for a half-eaten pastry in the refrigerator, I had stumbled upon the elusive truth: at some point, every writer lands on one side of an aesthetic divide, or as Zadie Smith puts it, travels down one of two paths for the novel.
Matt Seidel, ”There Are Two Kinds of Novelists…”
I’m always on time, and I don’t get drunk or hole up in a hotel with my lover.
Why was Eudora Welty beloved as a public speaker?
Our girl soars over the heads in the crowd gathered outside. Keeping arms tight at her sides and feet pointed straight back, she rises steady in a line, past a public school, a church, gaining altitude past skyscrapers, cityscape, hills, mountains, sky. Soon she is grazing the surface of the land, a bird searching for a meal as it skims the water. This is the up and the down, this is our ending ready or not. Our girl will be in the atmosphere, part of the weather. And she will fall. But when she does, it will be with the rain.
Recommended Reading: Bailey Lewis’s short story at Paper Darts “When the South Wind Blows Glass Shatters and Disappears Like Rain.”
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