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Posts Tagged ‘Karen Russell’

Donald Antrim Wins Genius Grant

September 25, 2013 | by

Donald Antrim, 2013 MacArthur Fellow

Here on Twenty-Seventh Street, we are kvelling: we just learned that our advisory editor, longtime contributor, and friend Donald Antrim is a 2013 MacArthur fellow.

In an interview published in issue 203, Antrim said of his fiction,

It took me a while to understand that in building another world through the fantastic I was making a set of rules that had to be observed, a logic that had to be carried through—that I was in some ways obeying the premise of the very opening line, and that each book would make itself out of itself as time went on.

The committee described his work as “at once absurd but relatable, free but structured, romantic but realistic, funny but sad.” He is in terrific company: among the other twenty-three honorees are Karen Russell, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, and the musician and writer Jeremy Denk. (See a full list of 2013 fellows here.) Hearty congratulations to all!

 

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Notes from a Bookshop: March, or Waiting for Redbird

March 15, 2013 | by

Picture 16

“The sky was darker than the water
it was the color of mutton-fat jade.”
—Elizabeth Bishop, “The End of March”

On more Saturday afternoons than not this month, I’ve watched swirls of snow blow past the blue door of our bookshop. The parking lots in town have small mountains of mud-encrusted snow piled in their corners, monuments to the length of this winter. At home, the firewood is running low, our freezer is nearly empty of the lamb we split with our neighbors back in the fall, and the local farmer’s market offerings have dwindled down to the last rutabagas from the root cellars. This has been a long winter, and everyone who comes into the bookshop looks a bit tired, drawn, impatient for spring and the promises that come with it.

My favorite customer came in three weeks ago with his pregnant wife, her hair and eyes glowing, everything about her bursting with her own impending spring. Her husband is my favorite customer because he is my good luck charm—on the bookshop’s first Saturday he walked in and poked around until he found our poetry section. He gaped, not believing our little cache of modern poets. He revealed he was also a poet, had written his graduate thesis on Franz Wright. He’d grown up in town and I thought the presence of a local poet on one of our first days open was an auspicious sign. Read More »

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Remembering Rosset and Sexy Hoaxes

May 16, 2012 | by

  • In the Evergreen Review he founded, a moving tribute to Barney Rosset.
  • The best-read cities in America.
  • Cooking Cather.
  • Mike McGrady, perpetrator of sexy sixties literary hoaxes, has died. To quote the Los Angeles Times,“Inspired by popular best-sellers by the likes of Jacqueline Susann, McGrady challenged his newsroom buddies to write their own terrible, trashy, sex-filled best seller. McGrady and 24 other writers each took a chapter; in every badly written one, Penelope Ashe engaged in fantastical sexual exploits.” The rest is (sort of) history.
  • Odd couples, indeed: famous literary roommates!
  • Swamplandia! author Karen Russell wins the NYPL’s Young Lions Fiction Award.
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    Just Gotta Say…

    April 20, 2012 | by

    Nothing against Swamplandia! or The Pale King, but we can‘t help wishing the Pulitzer Board had gotten its act together—and chosen Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams, the novella that appeared in our Summer 2002 issue. That would have been our first Pulitzer! As it is, it’s our first Pulitzer nomination. Train Dreams made its original appearance alongside fiction by Aleksandar Hemon and Mary Robison, interviews with Ian McEwan and Louis Begley, plus a radio play by Rick Moody ... and we have a few copies in mint condition. Buy yours while supplies last.

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    Karen Russell on Swamplandia!

    February 3, 2011 | by

    Photograph by Michael Lionstar.

    Swamplandia! is twenty-nine-year-old Karen Russell’s first novel. But the Miami native is already well known in literary circles for her debut story collection, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (2006). The overlapping themes in St. Lucy’s—the pitfalls and wonders of childhood, reality’s spectral double, and the changeable mood of the Florida swamp—resurface, with equal deftness and wit, in the novel, which also borrows the Bigtrees, a family of alligator wrestlers. In Swamplandia!, the Bigtrees operate the titular theme park on a small island in Florida’s archipelago, and Ava, the youngest daughter, traces the park’s and the family’s demise—the “Beginning of the End” she calls it—after the death of her mother.

    Were there theme parks on islands in the Florida you grew up in, as there are in the novel?

    There were definitely a lot of these little Diane Arbus-y–constructed realities everywhere. We had Monkey Jungle, Parrot Jungle, a serpentarium off I-60, zoos, and the Miami seaquarium. It was this seamless, whole cloth thing: There is the seaquarium, now we go to the grocery store. It doesn’t really interrupt reality.

    We had a little boat when I was really young, and we would go tool around the islands near Pristine Bay, and I loved that. I was reading YA novels where kids are always shucking their parents and living for months on an island, so that was exciting. There’s a whole genre of YA novels where some kid is stranded by a plane, or stuck on an island, or lost in the woods, and they use their kid resources to survive through sheer luck. That was always my favorite trajectory. I was an anxious kid, and these books seemed like the best invention ever: here is a door I can carry with me wherever I go; I could just open a book in any situation.

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