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Posts Tagged ‘Toni MOrrison’

Philosophy Turns Violent, and Other News

September 17, 2013 | by

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  • During an argument over the works of Immanuel Kant, a Russian man was shot in the head. He is, shockingly, not seriously hurt, but the shooter faces up to a decade in jail for “intentional infliction of bodily harm.”
  • The distinguished poet Graham Nunn—former artistic director of the Queensland Poetry Festival—has apologized for serial plagiarism. After getting caught.
  • James Patterson: “I’m going to give away $1 million in the next twelve months or so, to help independent book stores. We’re making this big transition right now to ebooks, and that’s fine and good, and terrific, and wonderful, but, we’re not doing it in an organized, sane, civilized way. What’s happening right now is, a lot of book stores are disappearing, a lot of libraries are disappearing or they’re not being funded. School libraries aren’t being funded. This is not a good thing. It used to be you could go to your drugstore, you’d find books everywhere.”
  • The president of the Ohio board of education is calling for the ban of The Bluest Eye by native daughter Toni Morrison. Debe Terhar calls the 1970 novel “pornographic.” Says Morrison, “I resent it … I mean if it’s Texas or North Carolina as it has been in all sorts of states. But to be a girl from Ohio, writing about Ohio having been born in Lorain, Ohio. And actually relating as an Ohio person, to have the Ohio, what—Board of Education? —is ironic at the least.”
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    Digital Book Signings, and Other News

    February 27, 2013 | by

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  • “Why do so many novels get adapted into screenplays at all, when their essential quality, the persuasive and enthralling power of prose, always must be stripped—and the final product is always left in some state of diminishment?” Ian Crouch on that modern institution, the miniseries. 
  • At three P.M., Toni Morrison is conducting a “digital book signing.” (Really more of a Google hangout, but still.)
  • What are the ten best books you’ve never read? (I, for one, have never finished The Ginger Man.)
  • While we’re ranking stuff: your favorite film about a writer? (Barton Fink.)
  • “Rather than limiting discussion of a certain book to a digital room in e-readers such as the Kobo or Kindle, Socialbook lets all your friends in your personal digital network know what you’re reading and invites them into the conversation. Furthermore, Socialbook puts participants right into the text of the book, where they can scribble notes in the digital margin of the book, highlight portions, pull out quotes and even rearrange the content.” To coin a phrase, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”
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    Dear Paris Review, Where Do I Publish?

    July 20, 2012 | by

    Dear Editors:

    Have made writing full time. Have novel and short essays. Attended NYU’s Summer Writer program last year. Would you have a good list of places for submissions beyond The Paris Review, The New Yorker and The New York Times? Thank you for reaching out via Twitter and offering some of us (hopefully lovable) newbies some guidance.

    Dear Newbie,

    We get asked this a lot. It’s a reasonable question, but it always makes our hearts sink.

    Here’s the thing: no matter how many classes you take, no matter how much time you spend at the keyboard, you cannot write seriously unless you read. And that means, partly, reading your contemporaries. Their problems are your problems; you can’t write—that is, you can’t write for serious readers—until you know what the problems are. Read More »

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    Literary Paint Chips: Gallery 2

    May 2, 2012 | by

    Paint Samples, suitable for the home, sourced from colors in literature. As seen in our two-hundredth issue. See Gallery 1 here.

    Havisham’s Complexion1 Anti-Sex Scarlet2 Plum Purple3 Closed Eyelid4
    Green Paste5 Rain Stone6 Nothing7 Esther’s Sauce8
    Anthracite Brazier9 Dove10 Encrimsoned11 Foul Mood12
    Snot13 Eyes14 Aschenbach’s Youth15 Saffron Silk16
    Elm Shadow17 Paris18 Paper Smell19 England20
    Rat Brown21 20,00022 Dorian Scarlet23 Lilac Ocean24
    Basking Pear25 March Morning26 Sour Apple27 Gulag28

    Annotations

    1. “ ‘Dear Miss Havisham,’ said Miss Sarah Pocket. ‘How well you look!’ ‘I do not,’ returned Miss Havisham.‘I am yellow skin and bone.’” ‘Great Expectations,’ Charles Dickens.
    2. “A narrow scarlet sash, emblem of the Junior Anti-Sex League, was wound several times round the waist of her overalls, just tightly enough to bring out the shapeliness of her hips.” ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ George Orwell.
    3. “ ‘Not those socks, Jeeves,’ I said,gulping a bit but having a dash at the careless, off-hand tone. ‘Give me the purple ones.’ ‘I beg your pardon, sir?’ ‘Those jolly purple ones.’ ‘Very good, sir.’ ” ‘The Inimitable Jeeves,’ P. G. Wode- house.
    4. “I pulled up my feet, bent my knees, and rested my chin on my hand. Then I closed my eyes. Still no sounds. The darkness behind my closed eyelids was like the cloud-covered sky, but the gray was somewhat deeper.” ‘The Wind-up Bird Chronicle,’ Haruki Murakami.
    5. “I bought makeup in tubes off a rack, and in the cold and dirty toilet of the gas station, I attempted a transformation, slapping buff-colored liquid over my face and rubbing green paste on my eyelids.” “Dulse,” Alice Munro.
    6. “A rainstorm would last hours, soaking the ruined outbuilding nearby, darkening its stones.” “St. Martin,” Lydia Davis.
    7. “Taken to his uncle’s house once, he had stumbled on her in the soft pink bedroom. Ida had just emerged from her bath and she sat in a powder blue nothing before a mirror at a little table crammed with jars.” ‘The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,’ Mordecai Richler.
    8. “He taught me how to eat avocados by melting grape jelly and french dress- ing together in a saucepan and filling the cup of the pear with the garnet sauce.” ‘The Bell Jar,’ Sylvia Plath.
    9. “At the street corner there was a brazier alight, the red cones of anthracite beautifully glowing, and a whiff of heat shedding from it.” ‘Girls in Their Married Bliss,’ Edna O’Brien.
    10. “Passersby, who, of course, stopped and stared, had just time to see a face of the very greatest importance against the dove-gray upholstery, before a male hand drew the blind and there was nothing to be seen except a square of dove gray.” ‘Mrs. Dalloway,’ Virginia Woolf.
    11. “Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light made their way through the trellised panes, and served to render sufficiently distinct the more prominent objects around.” “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Edgar Allan Poe.
    12. “At home I’d slept for several hours then woke to a blue light and in a foul mood.” ‘Ticknor,’ Sheila Heti.
    13. “Tom was crying. He put his knuckles in his eyes the way little girls do on biscuit tin lids. A large tube of green snot hung out of one nostril, and when he sniffed it bobbed out of sight.” ‘The Cement Garden,’ Ian McEwan.
    14. “Pretty eyes. Pretty blue eyes. Big blue pretty eyes. Run, Jip, run. Jip runs, Alice runs. Alice has blue eyes. Jerry has blue eyes. Jerry runs. Alice runs. They run with their blue eyes. Four blue eyes. Four pretty blue eyes. Blue-sky eyes. Blue-like Mrs. Forrest’s blue blouse eyes. Morning-glory-blue-eyes. Alice-and-Jerry-blue-storybook-eyes.” ‘The Bluest Eye,’ Toni Morrison.
    15. “ ‘Surely you will permit me to restore what belongs to you?’ ‘How?’ asked Aschenbach. For answer the oily one washed his client’s hair in two waters, one clear and one dark, and lo, it was as black as in the days of his youth.” ‘Death in Venice,’ Thomas Mann.
    16. “But still at home, ignoring him, I’ll stay . . . Beautiful, clad in saffron silks all day.” ‘Lysistrata,’ Aristophanes.
    17. “On a sheep-cropped knoll under a clump of elms we ate the strawberries and drank the wine—as Sebastian promised, they were delicious together—and we lit fat, Turkish cigarettes and lay on our backs, Sebastian’s eyes on the leaves above him, mine on his profile, while the blue-gray smoke rose, untroubled by any wind.” ‘Brideshead Revisited,’ Evelyn Waugh.
    18. “In Paris, Cyril had a room away from his mother. I could already imagine the window open to the pink and blue sky, the wonderful sky of Paris, with the pigeons cooing on the windowsill, and with Cyril beside me on the narrow bed.” ‘Bonjour Tristesse,’ Françoise Sagan.
    19. “It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the house—to reach the smell. But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell.” “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
    20. “At Gatwick they found a taxi without difficulty. It was raining, as it always seemed to be when you returned to England. Graham gazed through the speckled window. Why did every- thing green seem to have so much brown in it here? And how was it possible for things to be both damp and dusty at the same time?” ‘Before She Met Me,’ Julian Barnes.
    21. “It was a rough and ugly thing, an overall length of twenty-eight feet, a five-foot draft and just that one junk sail, but with a respectable three hundred and fifty square feet. A trim tab rudder hung on the stern. She was heavy and slow. And very ugly. I made her more ugly by painting her rat brown.” ‘The Shipping News,’ Annie Proulx.
    22. “The solar rays shone through the watery mass easily, and dissipated all color, and I clearly distinguished objects at a distance of a hundred and fifty yards. Beyond that the tints darkened into fine gradations of ultramarine, and faded into vague obscurity.” ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea,’ Jules Verne.
    23. “His finely chiseled nostrils quivered, and some hidden nerve shook the scarlet of his lips and left them trembling.” ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray,’ Oscar Wilde.
    24. “The sky turns a soft lilac. Seeing this magnificent, enchanting sky, the ocean frowns at first, but soon itself takes on such tender, joyful, passionate colors as human tongue can hardly name.” “Gusev,” Anton Chekhov.
    25. “Grapes for the asking, / Pears red with basking / Out in the sun, / Plums on their twigs; / Pluck them and suck them, / Pomegranates, figs.” “Goblin Market,” Christina Rossetti.
    26. “It was a typical March morning when we got up to drive them to the train: blowy, dark, with spits of rain now and then.” ‘The Country Wife,’ Dorothy Van Doren.
    27. “White halogen off the green of the composite surface, the light out on the indoor courts at the Port Washington Tennis Academy is the color of sour apples.” ‘Infinite Jest,’ David Foster Wallace.
    28. Both of us were weak, dried out; our skin was grayish-yellow on our bones.” ‘The Gulag Archipelago,’ Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

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    Ishmael Reed on ‘Juice!’

    September 13, 2011 | by

    Ishmael Reed © Terence Byrnes.

    Seventy-three-year-old Ishmael Reed has been a major figure in American letters for more than four decades. In April, Dalkey Archive published Juice!, Reed’s first novel in more than fifteen years. Juice! tells the story of a struggling African American cartoonist whose personal and professional life is disrupted by the media frenzy surrounding the O. J. Simpson murder trial. Earlier this summer, Reed, who is based in Oakland, California, responded to some of my questions about his latest work.

    Juice! is your first novel since 1993. What inspired you to write another novel after all these years?

    I began this one as soon as I heard about the murders. I was vacationing in Hawaii, and the murders ruined my vacation. The media went berserk over the murder of Nicole Simpson, the kind of ideal white woman—a Rhine maiden—one finds in Nazi art and propaganda, murdered allegedly by a black beast. It was a story that reached into the viscera of the American unconscious, recalling the old Confederate art of the black boogeyman as an incubus squatting on top of a sleeping, half-clad white woman. It was also an example of collective blame. All black men became O. J. The murders ignited a kind of hysteria.

    Juice! does not have a conventional structure. The novel incorporates courtroom documents, television transcripts, and pieces of visual art. It also plays around quite a bit with time. What gave rise to the novel’s peculiar shape?

    I try to experiment. Writing a conventional novel would be boring for me. In this novel, I added cartoons. Cartoons were probably my introduction to storytelling as a child, because on Sundays we got The Chattanooga Times, and I’d read the funnies. A publisher wanted to publish Juice! but decided that the cartoons weren’t up to par. So, at the age of seventy, I studied at the Cartoon Art Museum of San Francisco, and the cartoons improved so much that I now do political cartoons for The San Francisco Chronicle’s blog, City Brights.Read More »

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