Posts Tagged ‘David Means’
July 27, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Congratulations to The Paris Review’s contributors David Means, Ottessa Moshfegh, and David Szalay, all of whom have been long-listed for this year’s Man Booker Prize. (Paul Beatty, interviewed last year on the Daily, is nominated, too.)
- To all the rich folks shopping for Common Projects sneakers and neon signs: your “minimalist” aesthetic isn’t the latest iteration of an artistic philosophy. It’s just consumer culture. As Kyle Chayka writes, “Despite its connotations of absence, ‘minimalism’ has been popping up everywhere lately, like a bright algae bloom in the murk of postrecession America … So long as it’s stylishly austere, it seems, it’s minimalist. Part pop philosophy and part aesthetic, minimalism presents a cure-all for a certain sense of capitalist overindulgence. Maybe we have a hangover from pre-recession excess—McMansions, S.U.V.s, neon cocktails, fusion cuisine—and minimalism is the salutary tonic. Or perhaps it’s a method of coping with recession-induced austerity, a collective spiritual and cultural cleanse because we’ve been forced to consume less anyway. But as an outgrowth of a peculiarly American (that is to say, paradoxical and self-defeating) brand of Puritanical asceticism, this new minimalist lifestyle always seems to end in enabling new modes of consumption, a veritable excess of less. It’s not really minimal at all.”
- From Melville to Wallace, most of your prototypical “office novelists” are dudes, and their takes on bureaucracy are concerned less with work than with minute social shifts in hierarchy and class. Office novels by women have a different agenda, Lydia Kiesling writes: “The last two decades have seen a boom in workplace novels written by and mostly marketed to women … These books provide mapping, contextualizing, and rich illustration of women’s working lives. They form a kind of counter-tradition of office literature, dealing with the same bureaucracies and white-collar doldrums that have inspired male novelists but reflecting the particular challenges and preoccupations of women in the workforce … These novels often arrive at the same place: a woman who can’t cope with the demands of family and modern work finds a more flexible arrangement, usually capitalizing on her latent creative or entrepreneurial spirit.”
- Today in news about Bertolt Brecht’s son: Bertold Brecht’s son (Stefan) kept a really enormous collection of underground newspapers in his attic, and now they are yours for the seeing. A new exhibition, “Realize Your Desires,” chronicles Brecht’s collection and in the broader context of the underground press: “The Underground Press Syndicate (UPS), the overriding body of the underground press, began in 1966 with a humble assembly of five newspapers: the East Village Other (NYC), the Los Angeles Free Press, the Berkeley Barb, the Fifth Estate (Detroit), and the Paper (Michigan). Only six years later, Tom Forcade, leader of the UPS, claimed three hundred papers and twenty million readers.”
- The Chilean writer Roberto Merino remembers his early experiences with television: “A Sunday session of Tugar, tugar, the dance program which Baila domingo later replaced, was a protracted sexual torment. Ah, what ochre sundowns were whiled away in fantasies of oneself waiting outside the Manuel Plaza gymnasium for the most ravishing of the contestants before sauntering off with a careless arm around her, drinking in that longed-for blend of odors: the scent my mother would have disdained as ‘cheap,’ the sweat, the cigarette smoke infused into the denim jacket, the fading sweetness of Adams or Bazooka chewing gum in the brazen kisses.”
April 27, 2016 | by Dan Piepenbring
- Deaccessioning: it’s one of the cruel realities of our time. But how do libraries determine which books turn to pulp and which remain to yellow on shelves? According to Mary Kelly and Holly Hibner, who’ve created a blog called Awful Library Books, it’s easier than you think: “Kelly and Hibner created the site in 2009. Each week, they highlight books that seem to them so self-evidently ridiculous that weeding is the only possible recourse. They often feature books with outlandish titles, like Little Corpuscle, a children’s book starring a dancing red blood cell; Enlarging Is Thrilling, a how-to about—you guessed it—film photography; and God, the Rod, and Your Child’s Bod: The Art of Loving Correction for Christian Parents … ‘I pull one or two books a week. Nobody’s going to even question that,’ Hibner said. She also keeps a bag of her favorite weeded books under her desk—Vans: The Personality Vehicle, Be Bold with Bananas—in case any inquisitive patrons want examples.”
- It’s not always easy to muster one’s enthusiasm for railways—even train buffs get the blues. But James Meek has been reading The Railways: Nation, Network and People, and so can offer a vital refresher for a world suffering from rail fatigue: “The shock of the speed of the first trains, three times faster than a stagecoach, wasn’t only physical, embodied in the sensations of acceleration and travel, but conceptual: the old measures of distance, how far town X was from town Y, were rendered irrelevant, leading to what commentators as early as 1833 were calling ‘the annihilation of space by time’, twenty-five years before Karl Marx used the phrase in the Grundrisse. Along with the speed of the trains was the shock of the speed with which the railways spread, gouging cuttings out of hills, flinging embankments across bowls of land, boring and blasting tunnels through solid rock, hurling viaducts over valleys and gorges … Writing in the 1960s, Michael Robbins said: ‘The Victorians who created the railway look like a race imbued with some demonic energy.’ ”
- David Means discusses his new novel, Hystopia, and the way he manipulates time in his fiction: “For me, grace lies in a paradox: the moment you are fully in existence while also fully aware of the vastness of time itself; so you’re sitting there in a hospital hallway holding a baby and the baby is looking up at you and you’re in the moment but also aware of the hugeness of the moment, the inexplicable forgiveness in the tactile feeling of this newborn life in your hands and the absolute innocent need inside the baby’s gaze. The writer’s job is to be as true as possible, not only in the drafting but the revision process, to the words and the reality that they are representing and creating. That requires an attempt at humility before the material, somehow. Humor and grace, for me, are entwined.”
- It’s great that Harriet Tubman will soon grace our twenties, but isn’t it time to spice up the ol’ government oil-portrait collection, too? “Looking through the House and Senate portrait collections, you’ll find a wealth of white legislators in ill-fitting suits posing awkwardly among symbolic objects: dogs, children, clocks, gavels, and flags—lots of flags … But if you’re not a white man, gay or straight, good luck getting a portrait painted before you die. The first Asian American in Congress, Dalip Singh Saund (D-CA), served as a representative for four years until a stroke ended his political career in 1962 … Saund died in 1973, but his portrait wasn’t commissioned until 2007, over forty years later, and it shows him standing in the Capitol rotunda, bordered by the places and people that influenced his career: India, California, Gandhi, and Lincoln.”
- Today in new exhibitions: “Olsen Twins Hiding From the Paparazzi.” “Ever wish that visiting a museum was more like watching reality TV and simultaneously browsing TMZ, all while a few wine coolers deep? You’re in luck … [the artist Laura Collins] had a series of paintings depicting the Olsen twins hiding from the paparazzi … Collins’s artwork lines the hallway, which is operating under a ‘jungle’ theme, complete with large green-paper leaves. Mary-Kate and Ashley are not identified in each painting, which Collins says is intentional. ‘I have no idea who’s who. I wanted it to be like, they’re kinda interchangeable. We almost don’t care who’s who.’ ”
April 2, 2013 | by Lorin Stein
On the eve of celebrating our sixtieth birthday, The Paris Review is up for two National Magazine Awards: Fiction and General Excellence. Our fiction finalist is Sarah Frisch, whose story “Housebreaking” appeared in issue 203.
These nominations are the latest in a series of recent plaudits. Last month, we received seven nominations for the Pushcart Prize. We also had a story (“The Chair,” by David Means) chosen for The Best American Short Stories and an essay (“Human Snowball,” by Davy Rothbart) selected for the year’s Best Nonrequired Reading.
This week, New York magazine placed our new issue in the top quadrant of its famous, feared Approval Matrix, while Adam Sternbergh, blogging for the New York Times, called it “great … great … great.” He singles out “a great, long interview with Mark Leyner,” the Art of Fiction with “New York literary icon Deborah Eisenberg,” and “a great new poem from Frederick Seidel”; plus, “you’ll look great toting The Paris Review,” thanks, presumably, to our great cover.
March 1, 2013 | by Sadie Stein
We also have seven nominees for this year’s Pushcart Prize:
October 4, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
Tonight! Join us for a panel discussion of The Paris Review’s new fiction anthology, Object Lessons, and readings from Donald Antrim and David Means, moderated by our very own Lorin Stein. Free!
686 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217 7:30-9:30
See you there! P.S. There will be wine.
June 22, 2010 | by David Wallace-Wells
Yeah, I'm tempted by the novel. Tempted is the correct word because compared to the demands of the story it would seem that the novel, all that wide-open space, would be enticing after four story collections. But what's not enticing to me is the idea of simply going big and wide for the sake of giving into the possibility of going big. I love novels, and I read them more than anything, but stories cut in sharp and hard and are able to reveal things in a different way: they're highly charged, a slightly newer form, and inherently more contemporary.
Big and wide can mean expansive and comprehensive, but it can also mean bloat. Novels often thin themselves out to a watery hue—some even start that way—and at times seem to only ride along the surface of things, giving us what we already know, reporting the news that is just news. Ezra Pound said that literature is news that stays news. I keep reading novels that feel, even if they're trying new tricks, like old news, and often resort to cliché to keep moving: out of the corner of his eyes, his heart was pounding in his chest, that kind of thing. Those books are just surfing along on a very small waves—reading them is like watching surfers on Cape Cod trying to catch whatever's coming in on a lame day. Read More »