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  • In Bogotá, Colombia, a garbage collector by the name of Jose Gutierrez has been working tirelessly to rescue thrown-away children’s books for use in his homemade community library. If this doesn’t immediately call to mind Bohumil Hrabal’s classic Too Loud a Solitude, then it might be time for a re-read. Also, check out this Millions essay by John Yargo on Hrabal’s rambling fiction.


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    ~Brian Etling
  • The newest issue of Granta features some seriously captivating work, like this poem by Juliana Spahr and this story by Lorna Gibb, among many others. This “Possession” issue pairs well with an essay by our own Lydia Kiesling on possessing one’s own words and the narrative potential of leaked emails.


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    ~Brian Etling
  • “The magical aspect of poetry does not diminish the value of critical scrutiny. Scholarship has clarified the meaning of poetry. The point is rather that an essential part of poetry’s power has little connection to conceptual understanding. Poetry proffers some mysteries that lie beyond paraphrase.” Dana Gioia with a beautiful essay on the enchantment of poetry for The Dark Horse. Check out our extensive On Poetry archive and continue your journey of poetic enchantment.


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    ~Brian Etling
  • The number of options presented to people dating today can be overwhelming and sometimes weird. Alexandra Kleeman’s debut novel You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine touches on this subject, posing “questions about wanting and having and bodies and food and sex that often arise in discussions about how people date today.” Natasha Lewis reviews the book in The New Republic.


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    ~Cara DuBois
  • Recommended Reading: Ben Parker constructs a short history of hardcore music in his review of Tony Rettman’s NYHC: New York Hardcore 1980-1990 in n+1. Also, music for book lovers.


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    ~Cara DuBois
  • What is the price of diversity? Colleen Muir asks this question at The Rumpus in relation to the hefty cost of writers’ conferences. A piece of her essay: “I’m not claiming that Breadloaf [sic] lacks for talent, or that its writers don’t have interesting things to say. But it certainly lacks for diversity in at least one significant way, because most attendees share a privileged experience of the world.” Pair with Gail Gauthier’s essay on working in the kitchen crew at Bread Loaf.


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    ~Cara DuBois
  • “When we read a book that requires that effort — when the act of reading becomes rigorous and self-aware, rather than effortless and transparent — we get to have a history with what we’ve given ourselves to, a history etched into us by the demanding friction of its difficulty.” Zoë Heller and Leslie Jamison debate whether or not we overvalue difficult literature in The New York Times.


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    ~Cara DuBois
  • Callie Collins sits down with Emily Bell, the editor of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Originals, in the latest issue of Midnight Breakfast. Bell also published Lucia Berlin’s recent story collection A Manual for Cleaning Women. Bell states: “The voices I publish, they’re not trying to please their readers.”


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    ~Cara DuBois
  • Infographic of the Week: Electric Lit presents the 69 Rules of Punctuation in one color-coded, aesthetically-pleasing chart.


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    ~Cara DuBois
  • The Guardian reports that Kinokuniya, a Japanese book chain, has bought 90 percent of the print run of Haruki Murakami’s latest essay collection, Novelist As a Vocation, to be released September 10th in Japan. The company hopes to bring more customers back into bookstores. Need more Murakami? Read our review of The Strange Library.


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    ~Cara DuBois
  • During the Cold War, the CIA became entrenched in cultural life through an organization named, ironically enough, the Congress for Cultural Freedom. In order to fight communism, they funded socialist artists. The Awl has compiled a list of literary journals, including the Kenyon Review and The Paris Review, that were once supported by the CIA.


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    ~Cara DuBois
  • Recommended Reading: Teju Cole meditates on the destruction of the Baalshamin temple in Palmyra, Syria at The New Inquiry. “The destruction of a ruin is like the desecration of a body. It is a vengeance wreaked on the past in order to embitter the future.“


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    ~Cara DuBois