“That night, a popular anti-Kremlin blogger, making his way along the river in the center of town, encountered an ambulance driver standing outside his vehicle throwing snowballs lazily off the embankment; he’d been in traffic so long, he explained, that his patient was now dead.”—The maybe-sad Keith Gessen on Moscow’s traffic in the new New Yorker.
Last night Maggie Nelson read from Bluets (Heather Christle & Dorothea Lasky also read, and also ruled). I read Bluets twice, and this morning I was trying to think of other short books that reward re-reading. So, bullets!:
…I went to McNally Jackson. “Is it too late to use my Tumblr discount?” I asked at the register. “No,” said the cashier. We paused. “I believe there’s a password?” she said a moment later. I said the password. It was fun to say a password. I learned that I was the first person to have used the discount which is nuts! 20% off is a great deal and there are still four days left to get in on it. I saved $10.30 on: Bad Marie by Marcy Dermansky, This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper, Walks With Men by Anne Beattie, and Heartburn by Nora Ephron (gift). I just finished the first of these books and would recommend reading it the way its namesake protagonist eats food: systematically, with relish, in one sitting, until it’s all gone.
GOOD THINGS CONTINUE TO HAPPEN IF YOU REBLOG KEITH. KEITH ON EVERY TUMBLR! GOOD THROUGH THE WEEKEND, NEW FOLLOWERS.
“I want our poetry section to be made up of show-stoppers. I don’t want the poems merely to have integrity, or merely to be sophisticated — though I want those things,” he said. Mr. Stein made an example of an Elizabeth Bishop poem (“Keaton”) that he tore out of The New Yorker and pinned above his desk. “Every time I looked at it, my eyes would fill up with tears,” he said.” via The Observer, “Changes at The Paris Review’s Poetry Desk, Loren Stein at Play”
If Stein can pack The Paris Review with poems like “Keaton” (which has lived on my wall in four different apartments located in two different countries), consider me a lifetime subscriber.
I was going to reblog this this morning—because the poem!—but then I was like, Ehh, the internet is awkward. I don’t actually know this person. But then this person came in and took advantage of the Sad Keith Gessen Reblogging Experience and bought books and saved money. So here’s this great poem, and a reminder that good things happen when you reblog Keith.
71. I have been trying for some time now, to find dignity in my loneliness. I have been finding this hard to do.
72. It is easier, of course, to find dignity in one’s solitude. Loneliness is solitude with a problem. Can blue solve the problem, or can it at least keep me company within it? —No, not exactly. It cannot love me that way; it has no arms. But sometimes I do feel its presence to be a sort of wink—Here you are again, it says, and so am I.
This is from Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. She reads here on the 22nd, and I love this book. You would, too, I bet.
It was summer in the suburbs, and I was staying up until 4 am most nights. Not insomnia, not getting high in the basement, not driving my mom’s car with my new license to Noon Hill to chug cans of Keystone—no, I was alone in my bedroom playing Final Fantasy X and I could not stop. The characters are all fairy tale simple, the plot preposterous, even the title is vaguely oxymoronic. (Though not as bad as Final Fantasy X-2, my favorite titled thing anywhere.) I played and played and played and ached for it when I wasn’t. And so 4 am, me, eyes ablear, absorbed in a fantasy world, finally! Tom Bissell knows. In Extra Lives, his new book about video games, he writes of a similar experience: “I would be lying if I said Oblivion did not, in some ways, aggravate my depression, but it also gave me something with which to fill my days other than piranhic self-hatred. It was an extra life; I am grateful to have had it.” Rarely have I read and thought “Finally!” more often and with such vigor. And, sure, the highbrowed will say there’s no art in absorption, and parents just won’tunderstand, but Bissell’s book—which aims “to explain why video games matter, and why they do not matter more”—does so in smart, sharp, funny prose. It’s the first best book on the power and potential (often frustratingly unrealized) of the video game as a new medium for stories. Maybe even art.
One more video relating to something I liked this year: this is the part-funny, part-awkward-attempt-at-funny trailer for Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, featuring his student James Franco, Mary Gaitskill being wry and performing a gesture that means “lady business,” Eugenides,…
“I’m a 27-, almost 28-year-old man, I live with three other people in a place I don’t own, in a neighborhood that may or may not really want me there, and every time a new semester rolls around I have to go begging for work again. So you tell me: am I the face of privilege, or am I the face of the legitimate bohemian insurgency? Answering that question will tell you infinitely more about who you are than about who I am.”—Bookslut | An Interview with Justin Taylor (Speaking of Justin Taylor; via housingworksbookstore)
“The fact that the majority of respondents here presume it is their “literary-ness” which is under question says worlds more about y’all than about Tin House, which I assume takes it for granted that people who write, read, and vice versa.”—There’s an e-kerfuffle (the worst kind of kerfuffle) happening at HTMLGIANT over Tin House requiring a receipt from an actual bookstore with submissions. Some of the reactions strike me as actually insane. This is Justin Taylor in the comments, the sanest and best voice among them. I was going to try to say something about this, but Justin pretty much nails it. (Particularly when he talks about buying On Being Blue at McNally Jackson.)
“America, said Horace, the office temp, was a run-down and demented pimp. Our republic’s whoremaster days were through. Whither that frost-nerved, diamond-fanged hustler who’d stormed Normandy, dick-smacked the Soviets, turned out such firm emerging market flesh? Now our nation slumped in the corner of the pool hall, some gummy coot with a pint of Mad Dog and soggy yellow eyes, just another mark for the juvenile wolves.”—The opening lines of Sam Lipsyte’s The Ask. Happy 4th of July!