Listen to This

Tania James October 1, 2013

This article originally appeared on May 18, 2012.

When I moved into my current flat in Jangpura Extension, New Delhi, my landlady told me that her father-in-law had designed the neighborhood as a settlement for refugees from Pakistan, after Partition. I asked her who and what had been here before the 1950s. Her answer, more than once, was, “Nothing.”

I’m Bulgarian, which is to say a fatalist

APS | 7 Questions for Miroslav Penkov October 1, 2013

This article originally appeared on March 30, 2012.

1. Can you describe your daily routine, any rituals or habits?

It’s general consensus that a writer ought to write, or at least put in the hours behind the typewriter, every day.

Kerstin Ekman for the Nobel

Dorthe Nors October 1, 2013

This article originally appeared on November 3, 2011.

Recently, I was asked by literary friends in the United States whom we Danes were hoping might win the Nobel Prize in Literature. I had no real idea of any consensus, but as happens every year a large number of male culture scribes over the age of sixty seemed to think it should be given to Bob Dylan. Which always makes me wonder why, if the prize really should go to a troubadour, no one ever talks about Leonard Cohen, but that’s just my own personal aside.

Reading Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones

October 1, 2013

This article originally appeared on October 18, 2011.

A recent review of Salvage the Bones considers the novel in the context of a Salon essay about Modern Steinbecks. These novels, the reviewer suggests, “play into the exoticization of lives unlike those of readers who are inclined to pick up literary fiction.”

Salvage the Bones, like her stories “Cattle Haul” (APS 5) and “Barefoot” (APS 14), is set in rural Mississippi (the state with the greatest percentage of poor people in the nation, and one of the top ten in terms of income inequality). It takes place in the days before Hurricane Katrina. The narrator, Esch, fifteen and pregnant, lives with her three brothers and father in a clearing in the woods they call the Pit.

Chaos Manor

Sam Stephenson October 1, 2013

This article originally appeared on September 13, 2011.

821 Sixth Avenue was a hub for jazz musicians from 1954-1965, and many big names in New York found themselves there. The photographer W. Eugene Smith moved into the building in 1957 and eventually wired the place, intent on recording as much of the rehearsals, jam sessions, conversations, and daily life in the loft as possible. The result, though vast (40,000 photographs and 4,500 hours of audio recordings), accounted for a sliver of what was going on culturally, artistically, and politically in the city during the time. Explore a selection of significant spots on the map below.*

Excavating a Life: Part II

Sam Stephenson October 1, 2013

This article originally appeared on September 13, 2011.

RK: Eugene Smith, your subject, was known to be an eccentric man. After so many years of researching Smith, what new insights did you learn about him during your time in Japan?

SS: There are a couple of things that come to mind. One is the fondness expressed for Smith, the really moving expressions that people made about him. Several of our interview subjects cried when talking about him.

Excavating a Life: Part I

Sam Stephenson October 1, 2013

This article originally appeared on September 12, 2011.

Levon's saxophone from the third floor window reverberates up and down Bergen Street without amplification and the image of him through the window is impressive. The images are projected onto fabric hanging from the ceiling inside Invisible Dog's windows. With the figures moving between the projector and the fabric, it’s not unlike Smith's portrait of 821 Sixth Avenue with the silhouette cutouts. Pedestrians were stopped by curiosity and looked up at the building. A few lingered. A few people across the street closed their windows. When you add MLK giving a speech, Mr. Magoo commercials, Cuban Missile news, the drip of water, the typewriter typing, not to mention imagery...

What is it like to immerse oneself in another person's life?

Dead Darlings

Antoine Wilson October 1, 2013

This article originally appeared on August 18, 2011. In which our favorite writers share precious little bits that didn’t quite fit.

I'm probably not the only writer in the world who, prior to killing his darlings, tortures them. For months, they bounce in and out of a CUTS folder, which works like a self-storage unit, holding things until I can admit they belong in the trash. And not because they are trash, intrinsically, but because the project simply refuses to contain them.

Playing House

Leslie Jamison October 1, 2013

This article originally appeared on June 28, 2011.

During my second year at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, I lived at 715 Iowa Avenue, Iowa City, Iowa. In case my friends on the coasts didn’t get it, my address had to say it three times: I’m in the middle.

Dorthe Nors: A Master of Conjunction

Fiona Maazel October 1, 2013

This article originally appeared on January 28, 2011.

Welcome, people, to the work of Dorthe Nors. I met Dorthe last summer on a residency in Denmark. I’d been told the Danes are the happiest people on earth—they rank highest in the World Database of Happiness [ed: actually, a close second; Costa Rica takes the happiness prize]—and that Danish writers, in particular, are not afflicted with the same malaise, gloom, and despair that seem to beset their peers worldwide. Imagine my delight, then, to find in Dorthe an utterly morbid (and thus entirely winning) sense of humor, and in her bearing the same deadpan intelligence and compassion that motors her work.

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