– 14 April 2013: 30 children were killed in Syria.
– 15 April 2013: At least 37 people were killed in Iraq.
– 15 April 2013: 3 people were killed in Boston.
The icky white race says:
Baby Marie-Antoinette’s “Dear White Race” letter was first published 15 April 2013 on the cute literary corporation Bambi Muse.
I haven’t read Sheila Heti or Ben Lerner’s recent novels, the impetuses for Blake Butler’s recent, anti-realism-themed Vice article, but I’d like to respond to Blake’s finely-written itemized essay, because I, personally, continue to desire novels written by humans, which relate, slipperily or not, to human reality–subjective, strange and ephemeral as it is–novels which deal with such humdrums as sex, boredom, relationships, Gchat, longing, and, beneath all, death. I want a morbid realism.
I agree with Blake that a reality show like The Hills and social media such as Facebook create stories by virtue of humans doing simply anything. The documenting, sharing, and promoting of mundane everyday human life is more prevalent and relentless than ever before. In this environment, literature (and movies) about humans (most controversially, about privileged, white, hetero humans) that presents everyday drank-beers-at-my-friend’s-apartment life, wallows in self-pitying romantic angst, and doggy paddles po-faced through mighty rivers of deeply profound ennui can potentially seem annoying, or boring, or shittastical.
The following are REVIEWS OF BOOKS WITH DEATH IN THE TITLE THAT WE’VE NEVER READ. We’ve done our best to highlight some of the best classic and contemporary books with death in the title that we’ve never read for your very own reading pleasure. Please enjoy (while you still can)!
THE DEATH OF PRINGLE by Justin Katko
The Death of Pringle is a journey through the infinitely depressing matrix of trying to eat less than 10 grams of carbs a day for the rest of your fucking life.
DEATH IN A BOX by Alta Ilfland
Who hasn’t dreamt, on a mundane Monday or frowzy Friday, of starting a tumblr? Tumblrs entice, but is it really all a golden road to viral? Alta Ilfland answers that question with wit, warmth and wicked candor in the chronicle of her own foray into tumblr. Beginning, appropriately enough, on New Year’s Day with a divine idea, Ilfland sets the scene and pits her poetic sensibilities against tumblr. “I had talked about it / during the long gray winters / and the damp green summers…” she writes, “looked / with an addict’s longing / at film stills, dreamed / of waking up in the middle of the night / to reblog.” Indeed, not 10 pages into the book, reality comes crashing into conflict when no one follows her. In verse that skips along lightly, Ilfland records the highlights of each month, from no followers in February to one follower in March to the loss of that follower at Christmas—all the while trading her irl existence for the glow of the screen.
LECTIO V: Forget This Memory–Édouard Levé’s Suicide
LECTIO VI: Torture Porn is Capital– Reality & “Solitary”
LECTIO VII: Guy Bourdin’s Spread Legs
LECTIO VIII: The Cinematic Space of Lust
I wasn’t going to write this, feeling like the last thing anybody needs is another post explaining or defending or extolling paper, but then two events became bridged in my mind and I felt like I would be restless until I wrote them, about that bridge, so there you have a little apologia for what follows, which is that I moved some months ago to a new house, and recently found myself sitting on the floor late at night amidst boxes filled with folders and smaller boxes, and several folders were marked MISC and contained all kinds of paper, critical essays that I wrote during college and grad school about Emily Dickinson and Auden and post-structuralism and William Blake, and pages from the first novel I wrote, and pages from the first “novel” I wrote, and notebooks filled with other writings, and long letters never sent, and then I opened a box within a box and it was filled with floppy discs, each one labeled with the year and some vague tags, like “teaching stuff” and “post-mod essays” and “stories/summer” and “Needle,” and I just held those floppies like they were quaint artifacts from my Victorian childhood, realizing that I had no means of accessing their contents, and then stacking them neatly back into their smaller and then larger box, and returning to the piles of paper feeling a kind of profound agitation with regard to permanence or the myth of permanence, and remembering standing outside of the office where I worked just a couple blocks from the World Trade Center READ MORE >
“What reconciles me to my own death more than anything else is the image of a place: a place where your bones and mine are buried, thrown, uncovered, together. They are strewn there pell-mell. One of your ribs leans against my skull. A metacarpal of my left hand lies inside your pelvis. (Against my broken ribs your breast like a flower.) The hundred bones of our feet are scattered like gravel. It is strange that this image of our proximity, concerning as it does mere phosphate of calcium, should bestow a sense of peace. Yet it does. With you I can imagine a place where to be phosphate of calcium is enough.” – John Berger
Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum Photos
Simone de Beauvoir, Paris, 1945
A good article titled “The Second ‘Second Sex’” about translation, specifically of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, in The Chronicle of Higher Ed. Have you translated? What are your problems/concerns with translating?
Another interesting one in The Chronicle about vampires and dead people in general: “All the Dead Are Vampires.”
A + B = C. de Beauvoir plus dead people = A Very Easy Death. I haven’t read this memoir of de Beauvoir’s mother’s death in a long time, but I remember it being a powerful meditation on death. Describing her mother’s fears after a fall in the bathroom that breaks her femur, de Beauvoir writes, READ MORE >
I really don’t understand the hard sell approach used by certain authors/vendors in aggressively trying to push their goods. Though you may be able to cajole me into forking over $$ for your book at the bookfair (I am a pushover, often), you sweating and awkwarding me into doing so will only guarantee that though I have your book inside my house now, I will never read it, and will likely think of you only often thereafter in a gross light, thus netting you perhaps one book sold but a whole trajectory made mushy. Come on. Relax. Be cool. Things go around. Invest in yourself. Not all sales happen at the point of purchase, and better things are friends.
On a side note, in one instance this past weekend at the Denver book fair when I was shown a book and didn’t buy it, the presenter told his friend passive-aggressively toward me, “Oh, check out HTMLGIANT… it’s a great site, if you like sex and hyperbole and death.” I think he thought it was an insult. I got it tattooed on my thigh.
This one never gets old:
A recent Mother Jones article by Ted Genoways, editor of Virgina Quarterly Review, suggests literature is dying because of the explosion of MFA programs and in turn, literary magazines and writers who look inward rather than outward in their storytelling. The really interesting conversation takes place in the comments where anonymous commenters and folks like Matt Bell and Gina Frangello both expand the discussion and take Genoways to task quite eloquently for his myopic and rather privileged outlook from within academia and his willful ignorance of the independent publishing community.
I have said it before but I will say it again. I remain weary of the ongoing, lofty prognostications about the death of literature, literary magazines, the printed word and so on. The conversation is getting so very tedious. Literature is dying the longest death in the history of deaths. It is amazing, really. If literature is dying, it is now time for a mercy killing so we can bury the dead, allow the dead to rest in peace, and surrender to the five stages of grief. I will never understand why magazines continue to publish articles which look backward rather than forward, in no way cover new ground or offer practical solutions that are grounded in hope rather than pessimism.
January 18th, 2010 / 6:21 am