On the day my mother died, I unplugged
the stereo at a time when record clubs
still sent out their selections of the month
unless you said otherwise. The mail piled up
on a table in the entry hall—an avalanche
of bills and condolences I knew I didn’t
have to respond to. People would understand.
It’s the adult thing to do, thought Jack, to help people if you can. Then, no, he thought. It’s the childish thing, the need to find out if the world’s promise of danger is real. And he knew, as he sat there, that he didn’t know if it was real or not, if terrible things happen at night in Texas or if they don’t, and he both wanted and didn’t want to find out, as he always had.
Read "Jack & Emily Texas Roadside Incident, Summer 2012" by David Rice
Matt Borondy: Do you believe that every human experience, even the most joyful, involves some level of suffering?
Emily Rapp: I think joy is made more complicated and troubling and also RICH because it holds within it the fact that we will eventually die, and we will lose people and things that we love. I think experiences of joyfulness are more magnified, more fully experienced, when you have known true suffering, because you understand that all of these great epic feelings are blips, really. The present tense is the only lucky one, as my friend Rachel Dewoskin reminds me. When you love someone, the thought of losing them is strangling, stifling — but you wouldn’t feel such intense grief without having felt intense love. So you truly can’t have one without the other. I also think we make our own suffering by refusing to really wake up to and enjoy those joyful moments without attaching to either the future or the past. Doing this, however, is so difficult to do. We have to be constantly reminded. Unless we’re the Buddha, and most of us (all of us?) are not.
Read our complete interview with Emily Rapp, author of The Still Point of the Turning World.
Meaning’s Music: A Review of William H. Gass’s Middle C
If writers such as Gary Lutz, Diane Williams, and Christine Schutt have brought increased attention to the sentence as the fundamental, perhaps even self-sufficient, source of aesthetic interest in fiction, the most important precursor to their particular kind of inspired sentence-making must be William H. Gass…
In the end, the only critic that really matters is me. I have to write the stories I want to write, in the way that I want to write them. The motivation has to come from me, not from other people. I’m hard on myself.
"I think that for people like me, literature is a comfort, a way of feeling less alone. It is also a way to live lives not one’s own, to expand experience quickly, to destroy solipsism to whatever extent that might be possible. But literature isn’t any more pure than the world it does or doesn’t intend to represent, and it can be used to destructive ends, and people who are awash in it can commit atrocities the same as people who aren’t…That said, I think I’d rather spend time with people who read broadly and deeply. They tend to be smarter, more interesting, more likely to have a little societal compassion (but not always). Ultimately: life is not long, most of the things we chase come to naught, the things that don’t aren’t lasting anyway, and the people who make literature at least have the comfort of knowing that they made somebody they’ll never meet feel something in a future moment that can only be imagined, hopefully with great pleasure."
-Q&A with Kyle Minor
Today I offer you real talk. I’m not going to blow
smoke up your ass with some bullshit poem that
makes it seem like the world back in the day was
all sunny and gay because it wasn’t—least ways
not all of the time.
I don’t think that anybody is suggesting that cannabis isn’t a powerful plant, it clearly is. That’s why there’s all this political and economic hubbub around it. It’s like the Force, Luke. You can use it in a lot of ways, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t have the opportunity to choose responsibly. Free, right? That’s the best of our national brand. America: Home of the Babysat. Just doesn’t have the same ring.