Posts Tagged ‘fantasy’
July 8, 2016 | by The Paris Review
In 1924, Samuel Beckett, eighteen, lurked at a Sunday salon in Dublin, standing obtuse and silent against the wall, his head down as conversation breathed around him. Five years later, in 1929, in Paris, he sat silently on the edge of a circle of James Joyce’s acolytes, while “Shem” (Beckett’s affectionate sobriquet for Dublin’s literary master) held court. On a balmy afternoon, in 1932, he slouched into a corner during tea at Walter Lowenfels’s (a cheerful American—and failed publisher—in Paris’s literary society), where he sat “tall, thin, looking like a forest ranger in a Western.” Beckett’s dark form—I imagine him in the shadows of these parties, hunched, hawk-nose angled down, and blue eyes focused on a point—is a recurring image in the early chapters of Samuel Beckett, the 1978 biography by Deirdre Bair that I started reading this weekend. But these aren’t my only impressions of him. Bair was given unprecedented access to Beckett: the book was written while he was still alive, and though he didn’t give her any interviews, he allowed Bair to write to his friends and family, informing them that they should give her whatever they like. And so Beckett emerges—layered, brilliant, brooding, genius. —Caitlin Love
From the first page of Antonio di Benedetto’s 1956 novel Zama—in which the eponymous hero spies a monkey’s floating corpse “caught among the posts of the decrepit wharf … ready to go and not going”—a humid nimbus cloud of despair settles over the story, never to dissolve. Set in the Paraguay of the late eighteenth century, Zama follows a bureaucrat in his tortured efforts to secure a better position in far-off Buenos Aires, where he hopes to settle with his even-farther-off wife and children. Listless, phlegmatic, and increasingly horny, Zama wanders the lush country doing something close to nothing, watching almost distantly as he loses his moral compass. As a study in exile, paranoia, and the lonely tedium of quashed ambitions, this is great shit. But read it above all for the triumph of its style: Zama holds forth in deep, stewing paragraphs as pompous as they are incisive. It’s Sartre by way of J. Peterman, and in Esther Allen’s translation it still feels unique and alive. —Dan Piepenbring Read More »
September 22, 2015 | by Erik Morse
Joanna Walsh’s writing enacts what Chris Kraus has called “a literal vertigo—the feeling that if I fall I will fall not toward the earth but into space—by probing the spaces between things.” Walsh, a British writer and illustrator, is fascinated by liminal spaces, especially in the many varieties encountered by tourists. She’s sometimes known by her French nom de guerre, Badaude, loosely translated as “gawk,” and suggesting the perambulatory figure of the flaneuse. Her work trades on the literary genres of the miniature—short stories, essays, even postcards—reminiscent of Marcel Schwob, Clarice Lispector, Roland Barthes, and Lydia Davis. Her 2014 Twitter initiative @read_women is an archival who’s who of modern female writers, extolling in its tweets the distaff works of everyone from Leonora Carrington to Elena Ferrante. Aside from her abundant online presence,Walsh’s prolific output includes three new books: Hotel, Vertigo, and Grow a Pair: 9½ Fairytales About Sex, all of which run from the bantam lengths of fifty-five to 170 pages.
Among her seemingly disparate subjects are hotel architecture and etiquette, sexual politics in twentieth-century psychoanalysis, the perils of family vacations, the fantasias of cinema, and fables of transgendered witches. In Walsh’s feminist cosmogony, all are brought to bear as inscrutable souvenirs of the everyday mundane. She elucidates the slippery, gendered in-betweenness of everyday ritual in a manner reminiscent of Derrida’s disquisition on the chora—that most mysterious and mundane of spaces, not unlike the anonymous corridor of a hotel.
I reached Walsh, appropriately enough, at a hotel in Mexico. She and I shared a lively discussion about hotel culture and theory, travel fantasies, and the contemporary potential of fairy tales.
Read More »
March 12, 2015 | by Dan Piepenbring
The BBC has just reported that Terry Pratchett has died at sixty-six. Pratchett wrote more than seventy books, most of them part of his Discworld series: satirical, philosophical fantasy novels that earned him a wide readership, sometimes at the expense of the critical attention his work merits. “Terry Pratchett is not one to go gentle into any night, good or otherwise,” his friend Neil Gaiman wrote of him last June, as he was beginning to slip away to Alzheimer’s. “He will rage, as he leaves, against so many things: stupidity, injustice, human foolishness and shortsightedness, not just the dying of the light … Terry Pratchett is not a jolly old elf at all. Not even close.”
Here’s a bit from Pratchett’s 2007 essay, “Notes from a Successful Fantasy Author: Keep it Real.” It speaks to genre fiction’s unique position as a vehicle for social commentary, and to the set of logic puzzles a fantasy novelist faces in trying to build a new world. You can find it in A Slip of the Keyboard, a collection of his nonfiction published last year. Read More »
September 24, 2014 | by Christopher Urban
War game as money pit.
When you’re growing up, having a brother close to you in age means you’re never alone. There’s someone to share your clothes and chores, your blame and punishment, and, as was my case, your bedroom—my brother and I were together even in a state of sleepy unconsciousness. The second of my two oldest brothers predates me by a mere ten and a half months. When we were young everyone thought we were twins; even we secretly thought so for a while. A major, if less apparent, perk of our bond was that we could partake of enthusiasms we wouldn’t have wanted others to know about—not our friends, nor the girls we had crushes on, nor anyone, really.
The summer before high school we stumbled on something unbelievably uncool. If we hadn’t had each other for company, I like to think we wouldn’t have given the endeavor a second thought. We had our reputations to uphold, after all. His was being cool—he was a drummer in a punk band whose members, including a female bass player he would later start dating, were much older than he was. My brother drank a can of Mountain Dew every morning for breakfast and wanted everyone to know about it. I had considerably less to lose: I awkwardly straddled the world of jocks and skateboarders, with mixed results. But since my brother and I had each other, we found no reason to limit our interests, however obscure, unpopular, or geeky they may have appeared, and however much they might have jeopardized us in the eyes of our peers.
The pursuit I speak of is Warhammer 40,000, a dystopian, futuristic tabletop war game set in the forty-first millennium, a combination of Risk and Dungeons & Dragons with a sci-fi twist. Read More »
June 22, 2012 | by Carmen Maria Machado
Warning: explicit images after the jump.
Now that Game of Thrones has aired its second season, there has been no shortage of commentary about the amount of skin and sex on the Emmy-winning HBO drama. Viewers have taken notice of the gratuitous nudity and graphic fucking, which are sometimes necessary, and sometimes incidental, to the plot. I’ve noticed something else, something more specific: from rape within an arranged marriage to sibling fucking, it seems like the sexual beings of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros speak two primary languages, fellatio and doggy style.
Why do I care? Besides being an obsequious and social consumer of television (I host Game of Thrones night weekly at my house), I’m a writer of short fiction who has also published erotica under the pseudonym Olivia Glass. My story “Drought” was published in the (sadly now defunct) women’s sex magazine Filament and was selected by Violet Blue to appear in Best Women’s Erotica 2012, from Cleis Press. I’m always interested in sex as it is presented to us—in literature, film, and art—in that it is both a reflection of what we think, and a reflection of what we think those consuming the art want to see.
So what’s happening in Game of Thrones? What does it mean that the primary sexual positions in a highly sexualized show are those of domination?
And, more specifically, what’s up with doggy style?
July 15, 2011 | by The Paris Review
As a supplement to our science-fiction issue, I’ve been reading Fredric Jameson’s super brainy Archaeologies of the Future, his defense of SF as the last redoubt of utopianism. Jameson also makes some helpful distinctions between SF and fantasy, to the detriment of the latter (a nice antidote to Harry Potter mania). It has brought back memories of many childhood afternoons spent reading Asimov, Le Guin, and Frank Herbert—books I thought I’d forgotten but am happy to rediscover. —Robyn Creswell
I’ve been fully immersed in Sheila McClear’s memoir The Last of the Live Nude Girls, about her time spent working in a Times Square peep show—eye-opening, gritty, and compelling. —Sadie Stein
I’m contributing from the Palovista Ranch this week, where I’ve been writing but also rereading one of my favorite novels, Blood Meridian and, for the first time, Suttree. As expected, Cormac McCarthy is the perfect companion for long walks around the desert. —Natalie Jacoby
If you get a chance to see the documentary Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness, be sure to: it’s not just a portrait of the iconic Yiddish writer but also of a lost world. I found it deeply moving. —S. S.
Dani Shapiro on the difference having a child has on a memoirist: “After all, one can’t write with abandon if one is worrying about the consequences. And to have children is to always, always worry about the consequences.” —T. L.
I’ve got a girl crush on former Paris Review intern, Believer editor, and author extraordinaire Vendela Vida. Read her Guardian interview on lying, The Lovers, and why she and Dave Eggers don’t linger over dinner. —Mackenzie Beer