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John Barth: The Granta Podcast, Ep. 31 by Granta Magazine. Patti Smith, Survivor. One bright afternoon last month, the Rockaways’ meticulously restored boardwalk gleamed in the sun, as did ’s sparsely furnished one-room bungalow a half-block away, the light filtering through the wisps of white linen that draped the new windows.

Patti Smith, Survivor

Its minuscule front porch overlooked a raggedy yard turfed with weeds and wildflowers. Hitchens 2010: Intelligence, Wit & Courage. James Wood · On Not Going Home · LRB 20 February 2014. I had a piano teacher who used to talk about the most familiar musical cadence – in which a piece returns, after wandering and variation, to its original key, the tonic – as ‘going home’.

James Wood · On Not Going Home · LRB 20 February 2014

It seemed so easy when music did it: who wouldn’t want to swat away those black accidentals and come back to sunny C major? Moving beyond the Charles Bukowski American lowlife cliche. When Charles Bukowski died in San Pedro 20 years ago, the obituaries in the next day's papers typically began with some iteration of Time magazine's stock description of the writer as the "laureate of American lowlife.

Moving beyond the Charles Bukowski American lowlife cliche


Susan Sontag

'The Black Dog' by W. H. C. Pynchon. The Dog, J.

'The Black Dog' by W. H. C. Pynchon

Laurent, 1874. From Archivo Ruiz Vernacci, Fototeca del IPCE, Madrid. by W. H. C. “And if a man shall meet the Black Dog once it shall be for joy; and if twice, it shall be for sorrow; and the third time he shall die.” Web Film & Video: Georges Perec - Récits d'Ellis Island, Part 1: Traces (1978-1980) Duration: 60 minutes Part 1: Traces Part 2: Mémoires, 60 min Produced by: Institut National d'Archives (INA) Written by: Georges Perec Directed by: Robert Bober Sound: Jean-Claude Brisson In 1978, Robert Bober and Georges Perec set out to in the search of traces of Ellis Island, that is, as Georges Perec put it, of "the very site of exile, the place of the absence of place, the non-place, the nowhere.

Web Film & Video: Georges Perec - Récits d'Ellis Island, Part 1: Traces (1978-1980)

" They traveled to New York to film what was left of this "Golden Gate", nicknamed "the Island of Tears" by the immigrants.

Michael Paterniti

Memoir Manifesto by Deb Olin Unferth. Guest editor Deb Olin Unferth offers insights into the art of the memoir and introduces the present and future stars of the genre.

Memoir Manifesto by Deb Olin Unferth

Photograph via Flickr by Alice Carrier. Letters. Jack Kerouac’s List of 30 Beliefs and Techniques for Prose and Life. Italo Calvino on Writing: Insights from 40+ Years of His Newly Released Letters. K. Thomas Kahn on Imre Kertész. Imre Kertész.

K. Thomas Kahn on Imre Kertész

Photograph by Csaba Segesvári by K. Thomas Kahn. Electronic Course Guide for Postmodern American Fiction.

Fosco Maraini

Grand Mal. At the end of 1997 I was thirty-two, living in Richmond, Virginia and in a relationship that was approaching its third anniversary.

Grand Mal

My boyfriend and I were happy enough, I thought. We shared a rented house, cooked meals; accumulated electronics, bad art and two dogs. Then one day I realized I wasn’t happy at all. But there we were: living together with a pair of dachshunds circling our feet. The break-up was my decision. A week later, my ex called and said we needed to meet.

Franz Kafka

Mo Yan wins Nobel prize in literature 2012. The winner of the 2012 Nobel prize for literature is announced at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm Link to video: Mo Yan wins Nobel prize for literature Chinese author Mo Yan, who left school for a life working the fields at the age of 12, has become the first Chinese citizen ever to win the Nobel prize in literature, praised by the Swedish Academy for merging "folk tales, history and the contemporary" with "hallucinatory realism".

Mo Yan wins Nobel prize in literature 2012

The win makes Mo Yan the first Chinese citizen to win the Nobel in its 111-year history: although Gao Xingjian won in 2000, and was born in China, he is now a French citizen; and although Pearl Buck took the prize in 1938, for "her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces", she is an American author.

Magic Realism

The challenge of retelling Grimms' fairy tales. Magic Hours: Tom Bissell on the Secrets of Creators and Creation. By Maria Popova “To create anything… is to believe, if only momentarily, you are capable of magic.”

Magic Hours: Tom Bissell on the Secrets of Creators and Creation

Creativity is a peculiar beast. Its nebulous nature and elusive allure don’t stop us from going after it with stubborn precision, tracing its history, dissecting its neuroscience, flowcharting our way to it and itemizing it into a 5-point plan, all in the hope that, if only we understood its inner workings enough and engineered the right conditions, it would bestow its gifts upon us. But, as any creator would attest, there are factors at play well outside our control. Take Melville’s Moby-Dick, for instance. Emily Dickinson and William Faulkner suffered a similar fate, their works mere seashells washed ashore the island of literary recognition by the capricious currents of the vast and all-engulfing ocean of chance.

Literary magazines: Read all about it.

Junot Díaz

Thomas Heise: Unnatural as the Boom. Los Angeles Review of Books - The Sideways Gaze: Roland Barthes’s Travels In China. LATELY THE POSTHUMOUS CORPUS of Roland Barthes has been growing at a rate that rivals Tupac Shakur’s. (Can a hologram Barthes be far behind?) Recent years have witnessed the publication of lecture notes from his last seminars at the Collège de France (Preparation of the Novel) as well as the journals he kept following the death of his mother (Mourning Diary). The latest addition to his English catalogue is Travels in China, a translation of his notebooks from a three-week trip there in 1974 with a delegation from the French literary review Tel Quel.


Can We Ever Know Susan Sontag? Susan Sontag’s son, David Rieff, says he may never have published his mother’s journals had it been up to him. But Sontag left little of her legacy to chance. She sold her papers to U.C.L.A., and since her death, in 2004, Rieff has excavated and edited them: the diaries of a dead writer who stood, as long as she could, in willful refusal to die. Writing What Haunts Us. Anthony Swofford on bad habits, good writing, and coming back from the brink Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress Sitting in his beautiful apartment with a view of the Empire state building, Anthony Swofford still fantasized about combat. After writing Jarhead, a memoir about his time as a Marine fighting in the first Gulf War, Swofford found other ways to test himself as a man.

Rachael Mclennan: Anne Frank. Anne Frank.

Arabic Literature & Culture

Rebecca Solnit · Diary: In Fukushima · LRB 10 May 2012. George Orwell. Novels. Not Since 1977: No Pulitzer Awarded For Fiction. Copyright © 2012 NPR. Adam Shatz reviews ‘The Patagonian Hare’ by Claude Lanzmann, translated by Frank Wynne · LRB 5 April 2012. Anthony Burgess on the Short Story. I believe all novelists should also write short stories. Anthony Burgess had this feeling too, even though he himself largely stopped writing short stories quite early in his career — there’s a piece he wrote about the short story, in “Les Cahiers de la nouvelle” #2, January 1984, that raises a lot of important issues.

Burgess subjectively dated “the twilight of the short story as a commercial form” to around 1959 – fifty years ago as I write this blog post. He wrote –

Will Self

Teju Cole. Benjamin Buchholz.