“Real Pretend People”: An Interview with Justin Taylor

The characters are products of that world but they are also the justification for its existence (which I recognize is itself a thoroughly religious notion), so the characters and their world have a necessarily symbiotic relationship, which means that in order to get the story to a point of completion the characters must feel completed too. If anything else could be done with them then the story would simply not be over. But of course nothing is final, least of all completion. That’s just a noble(ish) lie we tell ourselves so we know when to turn the printer on…

Stay Human: Justice, Borders, Gaza, #DontShoot

On Monday night, a ninety-year-old woman named Hedy Epstein in Ferguson, MO, was arrested wearing a t-shirt that said, “Stay Human.” This was the tenth day of protests over the murder of unarmed teen Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson. Epstein, a Holocaust survivor and a Jew, said of her arrest, “I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I’d have to do it when I was ninety”…

The Prince Returns

And now, in 2014, Durrell has failed to be appreciated in any substantial way by modern audiences. In fact, the opposite is true: he is positively derided in most serious literary circles nowadays, and his books are rarely studied in universities. His novels are said to be antiquated and selfish, indulgent and over-written. His prose, once thought to be incisive and muscular, is now judged as florid and confusing…

“A Question of Silence”: Why We Don't Read Or Write About EducationFrom the Print

If in recent years one type of writing has managed to at least hint at the genuine problem in education, it is the adolescent fantasy novel. [...] The structuring desire of every novel of this sort is the same: a well-resourced school that offers a meaningful education. The anxiety that eventually takes over the story is also the same: that the school will turn out to be just as authoritarian, just as banal and arbitrary as its real-life counterparts.

The Sound of TED: A Case for Distaste

A decent strategy with TED might be to reclaim our teenage capacities and treat these videos as hopelessly passé—ignore them to death. Critiquing them, even as I have done, will do what criticism has done for television: creating an added enjoyment as you go on consuming the crap you despise…

Four Short Essays From "The Hard Problem"

One time I was in therapy for being sad, and while I was there I learned about The Power of Positive Thought. I know this sounds like magic and/or fake and/or antithetical to the open-eyed truth telling to which we’ve all dedicated ourselves as writers, but if you would like to not kill yourself after years and years of sitting at a desk with little or nothing to show for it, it’s a really great option…

Ragnarök on the Seine

The convicted Norwegian murderer and black metal icon, Kristian ‘Varg’ Vikernes, is to appear at a hearing before the public prosecutor, having been charged with one count of public provocation of racial hatred, and one of glorifying crimes of war and crimes against humanity…