When I think about the famous crazy writers, I suspect that they didn’t start off crazy. They were very sane to stand as much of it as they did for as long as they did. It is where all the best work comes from.
As she attempts to trace the increasingly portentous-seeming name in her grandfather’s WWI journal chronicling his time digging trenches in France, the narrator of Forgotten Night is haunted by the absence of Jewish life in the villages she travels through, by the desolation of the scattered traces remaining.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen once said, “All wars are fought twice, the first time on the battlefield, the second time in memory.” One half of Pam Jones’s newest novel The Arizona Room (Spaceboy Books, 2023) takes place during the World War II; in the second half, its protagonist reconciles with her experience in old age. While we never find ourselves...
I can’t write in an authentic voice if I get in my own way, if my own feelings are there, lurking. I have to disappear, not only for the reader, but for myself, and this art of deliberate, practiced self-annihilation gives me the purest, most exhilarating pleasure I’ve ever known.
Research suggests that reading literature improves theory of mind because it provides a complex look into the lives of people whose circumstances, experiences, and histories are different from our own. Does an improved theory of mind result in selfless behavior? No. If it did, we wouldn’t have literary writers, professors, and readers who are assholes, but we do.
Rodolfo had until then been listening rather distractedly to his elder companion’s lengthy narrative, since the steppe was filled with the scent-portraits of a great many hares, among which there arose suddenly the image of a great bustard, inscribed vividly in three scents, in concrete and relief, like a mezzotint; and there was not a square meter of ground that was not decorated with the tender...
Biblical imagery is a recurring motif, as evidenced by some of the story titles: “I John 3:15,” one of the shortest and darkest stories in the book (it still gives me shudders, just thinking about it), and “Sins of Our Fathers, Who Aren’t in Heaven.” Dealing with distant fathers and other family members is definitely something gay men can relate to, but it’s also a universal theme.
Poverty invites illness. Growing up, I saw many people afflicted by sickness that kept them homebound, or only able to work between bouts of physical symptoms. We are all somewhat powerless when sickness strikes or an accident occurs. What do poor people, including those who work low-paying jobs, do in such situations?
The system is built to fail a lot of us. It made me feel better about the fact that these women felt connected to somebody else like me when I thought I was completely alone in this scenario. It turns out I’m not.
The ease with which we consume these tiny bites of war’s ultimate violence is as troubling as it is ironic: the frame rate and resolution of real-life war footage pales in comparison to the first-person shooter game my son is playing right now in the next room, yet both have that same pulsating soundtrack and endlessly spooling comment thread.
Ignoring the instructions, the man stuck the pointy end of his tool in the slot of the little box I’d dropped my coins in. He then proceeded to hammer it in, angling it down to widen the gap just enough for the coins to spill out. He expertly caught them with the plastic cup meant for the laundry detergent, and then returned the container to the contraption with a quick, well-aimed blow from his...
The past was officially over, and the present was a completely different story, or so they said. The revanchists were those old racist ethnopolulist speechifiers in West Germany, members of folkloristic landsmen’s clubs and leagues of expellees over there who liked to parade around in what he saw as a relentless gesture of political bluster toward the East.