Renovation and the Sequel to The Anthologist
"At one point, Paul, who is quite lonely throughout 281 of this book's 287 pages, says, 'I want to forgive everyone. I want to do better with my life. Maybe doing better is somehow finding a way to make people's imaginations work better.' And I believe him." Evan P. Schneider reviews Nicholson Baker's latest novel, Traveling Sprinkler.
A Curtain Falls in Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh's August Wilson Center for African American Culture is being liquidated just four years after it opened. Is this a particularly Pittsburgh story, or does it reveal deeper truths about America's relationship with African American culture, notions of what urban space is for, and the never-ending tension between art and commerce? By Patrick McGinty
Late Night Library
Late NIght Conversation with Kyle Minor
In the latest Late Night Conversation podcast, Paul talks with Kyle Minor, whose second book, Praying Drunk, was recently published by Sarabande Books. They discuss Sarabande's 20th anniversary and book release party, Kurt Vonnegut and Don DeLillo as gateway drugs, the brutality and beautiful affinities of southern voices, and waking up with demons crawling out of the skin of your arms.
The Invention of Marienbad
Is Every Art Film Science Fiction?
"In The Invention of Morel, the explanation for what is happening depends upon an invented technology, so we call it science fiction. In Last Year at Marienbad, there is no explanation. So we call it art." Dan DeWeese looks at the connection between Adolfo Bioy Casares' 1940 novel and the tradition of the European "art film."
Ambiguity, Guacamole, and Dirt
Kevin Sampsell Opts for the Writer's Challenge
"One of the great powers that people who create have is that authority to say when something ends." Kevin Sampsell, author of This is Between Us (Tin House), answers Doug Cornett's challenging demands.
Virginia Woolf's Girls
Women of Privilege in The Years
"Watching the first few episodes of the third season of Girls the other night, it occurred to me that Virginia Woolf's last novel, The Years, has a few similarities to the much-debated HBO show. I know. Hear me out." Emily Burns Morgan on Lena Dunham's television show and Virginia Woolf's last novel.
Politically Incorrect Souls
In the films of Hu Jie, China's Survivors Speak
"Hu is the Errol Morris or Claude Lanzmann of China. He works within budgets and under political constraints, however, that would be their worst nightmares. In one scene in Spark, Hu begins to interview a gentleman in the man's apartment when the phone rings. It's the Security Bureau, warning the man not to answer Hu's questions." Jennifer Ruth on the documentary films of Hu Jie.
Long Black Road
Lee Ranaldo on tennis, travel, and Last Night on Earth
"Everything stopped. It didn't matter what you were supposed to be doing. All of a sudden you had all this time to yourself. I got a lot of stuff done that week. A lot of thinking done." Lee Ranaldo chats with Propeller's Alex Behr about music, India, and his latest album.
On Jenny Offill and "Making Bank"
"Is the small, proverbial brick-and-mortar, difficult-to-market, thoughtfully-made small press book actually the best possible independent art that we have in America?" Patrick McGinty on Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation and the experience of reading a "small press book" from an international, corporate publisher.
Seven Poems by Lauren Haldeman
Haldeman's first poetry collection, Team Photograph, is forthcoming from Rescue Press in Fall 2014.
Tony Wolk and The Parable of You
"What literary tradition do I feel I'm working in? Real fantasy. Or, to quote Molly Gloss when I thanked her for her blurb: 'I had no idea you were working in the other brief-and-strange form.' I guess that's it: Brief-and-strange." A Q&A with the author of The Parable of You.
Before Space, There Was Obsession
In Metropolis and Island of Lost Souls, the ultimate experiment is the creation of a woman. By Dan DeWeese
Proud Thug No More?
Zizek on the Coming Totalitarianism
"As China demonstrates, capitalism can always divorce democracy and give us the worst of all worlds: staggering economic inequality with zero political freedoms or legal protections." Jennifer Ruth reviews Slavoj Zizek's Demanding the Impossible.
Crossed Paths, Missed Connections
Meeting Cute Before the Great War
"If you have ever wished for a concordance of what European artists, writers, composers, and political figures were doing in the last historical moments before the continent—and the culture it was incubating— descended into the chaos of the Great War, you have it: it is Florian Illies' 1913: The Year Before the Storm." Review by Alan Limnis.
On Titles from Karen Green, Ben Schott
Brief reviews of Karen Green's Bough Down and Ben Schott's Schottenfreude.
Letter from Oaxaca
Muchos Muchas Muxes
"A man in the neighboring hammock explains that 'Muxe is blood. Muxe is indigenous. It is not gay. Gay is a Western idea projected onto the muxe phenomenon. I am from Juchitán and I am not muxe but for me muxe is normal. It is indigenous, a culture.'" By Sara Sutter
Melies and the Limits
Taking A Trip to the Moon
We have the term "speculative fiction," but "speculative cinema" is hardly a term at all. A new column attempts to explore the concept, starting with some thoughts on dramatic tension and physical versus virtual cameras in Melies' A Trip to the Moon and Scorsese's Hugo. By Dan DeWeese