Saturday, February 06, 2016

In Cold River and Blood: Why Memoirs By Dying Authors Are Always So Popular

The art of self-deprecation meets the business of publishing... 

“Making art is all about humans and our psychology: who we are, how we behave, what we do with the hand we’ve been dealt. It’s closer to your own bone when it’s a memoir, but the bone is still the bone.” Why We Write About Ourselves: Some of Today’s Most Celebrated Writers on the Art of Telling Personal Stories That Unravel Universal Truth


Philip Larkin, letter to Barbara Pym (July 18, 1971), via The Paris Review:

Has anyone ever done any work on why memories are always unhappy? I don’t mean really unhappy, as of blacking factories, but sudden stabbing memories of especially absurd or painful memories that one is suffused and excoriated by — I have about a dozen, some 30 years old, some a year or even less, & once one arrives, all the rest follows. I suppose if one lives to be old one’s entire waking life will be spent turning on the spit of recollection over the fires of mingled shame, pain or remorse. Cheerful prospect!

“These memoirs hold out the promise that you, too, will be able to cope once the eye of Sauron falls on you. Even if the tips are not practical in nature, often the mere lyricism people are able to bring to their tragic situations serves as its own kind of succor. When it comes your turn, you too may be able to make sense of it all by elegant resort to, say, the French existentialists.” Why Memoirs By Dying Authors Are Always So Popular (And Critic-Proof)

Not only did Capote’s book inspire a feature film, at least one TV mini-series, and two biopics of the author, it’s had enormous influence, right down to today’s media phenomenons Serial and Making a Murderer  Salon

Beware the scorn of Janet Malcolm. A new biography has her explaining what writers can and cannot do if they want to be regarded as honest and serious...Memories of Emeritus Russell Grave and his deadly slaves ...  

The joke back then, was everything the Communists told us about Communism was a lie.  Unfortunately everything they told us about Capitalism was true.
Sigh... And this is why you don’t screw up post-USSR Russia Ian Welsh

Sweden vs Russia – A new Cold War front? BBC. I’ve been to Gotland, Visby to be specific, and I recommend it. Ingmar Bergman retired there

*19 Years Before Escape Across the Cold River, Conrad Schumann defects to West Berlin, 1961

Conrad Schumann defects to West Berlin, 1961

Do you have a theory of biography? What about this: "We are not texts. Our histories are not narratives. Life is not literature"... Theatre of the Absurd from Czech Army to Crown Employee and Taxing Art Collector of Stories and Objects 

Most writers of literary fiction regard bestsellers with a mixture of envy for the numbers involved and disgust for the kind of writing that often racks them up. Le Devoir lightened its assignment by presenting it as a game, with a reader poll to decide the winner.”  The Globe and Mail (Canada)

“All this attention comes not from a greater understanding of mortality but from a greater ignorance of it. The promises of religion are replaced by the promise of science, yet medicine fails to vanquish its ultimate foe, instead rendering death more obscure, a matter for procrastination.”
The New Yorker

When someone declares "I have a novel in me,” that person will never be an artist, says Richard Sennett. You either do it or you don’t... Life is too Short to ask for permission, better to ask for forgiveness after you share your stories and links 

Name dropping of soulless characters makes our lives more colorful ;-) Gossip about Brown Love 

“Folktales are often disregarded as lesser forms of literature, but they’re valuable sources of information on cultural history. Despite being fictitious, they work as simulations of reality." The Atlantic

“Underlying all his characters was his fascination with how different people might experience differently the same situation. … Where Tasso’s verses describe for Tasso and his readers the essence of war, Cervantes’ prose describes how his characters perceive and misperceive war. Tasso’s words paint heroes; Cervantes’ lines animate characters.”  Arcade
  For writers, economic freedom is artistic freedom. Today's writers tend to be insecure and in debt. As a result, they play it safe... 99% »

Census news release: “Revenue for Internet publishing and broadcasting and Web search portal (NAICS 519130) employer firms increased 13.1 percent to $109.6 billion between 2013 and 2014

Sociologists, political theorists, anthropologists, and psychologists promise to reveal the terrorist mind. None bring the insight of novelists...Known Unknowns

Nazi Roots of Ukraine’s Conflict Consortiumnews

In the summer of 1936, German émigré writers congregated on a beach in Belgium. They had nowhere else to go ... 
Angel Collinson said she hit an icy patch and lost control on the Alaskan mountain.

Skier survives 300 metre plummet: Angel Collinson said she hit an icy patch and lost control on the Alaskan mountain
This is a miracle as MEdia Dragon dislocated shoulder after falling less than 30 meters at High Tatra Mountains 

“Foreign-accent syndrome is similar to aphasia, a communication disorder that can cause a variety of speech problems, often after a stroke or brain injury. But that doesn’t explain psychogenic foreign-accent syndrome. And, if patients’ speech is just impaired, why would that register as a different accent?” The Atlantic
Since 1968, Roger Scruton has waged a war against the left. Most of his foes are dead, but he battles on ...

“The beloved first sentence is the product of dramatic changes one hundred and fifty years into the novel’s history. There are ample studies of the rise of the novel, but the move that would become the novel’s calling card has virtually no critical history.” Electric Literature

Behold Jonathan Franzen, opening his book trailer for Freedom with the words: “This might be a good place for me to register my profound discomfort at having to make videos like this.”
Amazon swimming in Digital Rivers Down Under

"Pimp my muse." Is anything so transparently self-conscious, self-undermining, self-mocking as a video book trailer for literary fiction?... While YouTube videos promoting celebrity memoirs, lifestyle guides, and children’s stories appear more or less existentially secure, lit-fic trailers belong on a therapist’s couch, working through their guilt at prostituting imaginative worlds to market appetites. These spots may be best understood not as commercials but as reality shows in which the tasteless, endlessly derided objective is “Pimp My Muse.” The Curious Case of the Self-Loathing Lit-Fic Book Trailer

Endless storytelling possibilities were open to playwright Andrew Bovell and director Neil Armfield in adapting Kate Grenville's novel for the stage. By opting for a profound sense of ritual, intermingled with stylised theatricality and laced with enchantment, they arrived at a deeper, more poetic truth than naturalism could ever have allowed The Secret River review: Novel's poetic enchantment and brutality comes to life

Italian actor dies after hanging scene goes wrong