“I have been back to New Orleans just once. It was autumn again, and I stayed in the French Quarter, just as we three had done twenty-eight autumns before. What brought me there the second time was a literary conference. I was on a panel: the topic was “Writers and Masters,” and I spoke about Susan as one of my mentors. The next month, she died. It was 2004. How the devastation of the city she loved, just eight months later, would have pierced her.
 I never wore that dress again, but I kept it for years—long after I would have been able to get away with wearing it. The book, of course, I still have. He thought of his friends. He thought of his lost companion,….….….….….….….….….….….He wept for remembrance.….….….….….….….….….….….Love. Love. Love.”
Read more Sempre Susan here. 

I have been back to New Orleans just once. It was autumn again, and I stayed in the French Quarter, just as we three had done twenty-eight autumns before. What brought me there the second time was a literary conference. I was on a panel: the topic was “Writers and Masters,” and I spoke about Susan as one of my mentors. The next month, she died. It was 2004. How the devastation of the city she loved, just eight months later, would have pierced her.

 
I never wore that dress again, but I kept it for years—long after I would have been able to get away with wearing it. The book, of course, I still have.
 
He thought of his friends.
 
He thought of his lost companion,
….….….….….….….….….….….
He wept for remembrance.
….….….….….….….….….….….
Love. Love. Love.”

Read more Sempre Susan here. 

We assume that the internet can only make it easier and cheaper to access information, but what the internet really does, when it’s commercialized, is commodify information. In the future, publishers will be able to determine exactly how often a specific book or article is accessed, try a few different prices, and charge whatever turns out to be most profitable. If that profit can be generated by selling advertising, then the book will be made available “for free”; if not, users will be forced to pay. In the case of romance novels, this means “ad-supported books”; in the case of scholarly journals, if you don’t have an institution to support you, it means paying $5.99 to “rent” a single article for one day, the price currently being charged by Cambridge University Press.
If by any chance you’re a book person of any stripe who hasn’t yet read Charles Petersen’s article about the future of the NYPL, research, and books in general, it’s so important that you do.
emilybooks

The Not-Nice Novel

emilybooks:

Helen DeWitt’s books aren’t apologetic, cute or kind. In an Extremely Sentimental and Curiously Twee literary marketplace, we need her work more than ever, argues Rich Beck

In the last fifteen years, the Precocious Child has become one of the American novel’s favorite protagonists. Whimsical, ingenious, and verbose, the Precocious Child knows simultaneously more and less than his adult readers. He may be a tennis prodigy (Infinite Jest) or a twelve-year old farm boy who wins science prizes from the Smithsonian Institute (The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet). But he’s impeded by his youth and something else, too: autism (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime) or amusingly bad English (Everything Is Illuminated) make it difficult for him to understand or articulate adult feelings. This tension between extraordinary competence in some areas and lovable haplessness in others is what gives the Precocious Child novel its appeal.  

            The Last Samurai belongs to this genre—in fact, it is one of the very first Precocious Child novels—but it also obviates it. It seems to have been written, point by point, to reject everything the Precocious Child novel would come to stand for.

Read More

Rich has been working on this for a long time and I encourage you to stick it on your phone for your commute home today.  The Last Samurai, though not yet an Emily Book, is one of my favorite books in the world, and Rich has honed in on one of the sources of its power: a refreshing and unapologetic cruelty, which reveals truths that warmer-hearted books can’t touch.  

emilybooks
Her name is Rachel, and she’s Jewish, which means she’s the first date in years who would meet my family’s requirements.
She takes me back to her apartment and shows me personal, meaningful things. I try to be interested and compassionate, but I don’t want her to think this is long-term. She says she hasn’t thrown up for two years. I tell her I don’t throw up anymore, either. While she talks to me, I size her up—not gorgeous, but an incredible voice. She’s got a flat stomach but flat breasts. I hope for really big nipples.
longreads
longreads:

A trip through the “bike-crime underbelly”—and the futility of new technology when it comes to preventing it:

“Who Pinched My Ride?” — Patrick Symmes, Outside
See also: “Anatomy of a Greenpoint Bike Accident.” — Camille Dodero, Village Voice, Aug. 17, 2011

I was enjoying this #longread until I came to this paragraph:
"I rode the IRO through verdant Golden Gate, enjoying the smooth ride.  I’d always thought single-speeds were an illin’ pose, but the IRO was  nimble and ridiculously light. Standing on the pedals, I climbed past  15-speeders in my only gear. It was like having a skinnier, younger  girlfriend."
Shit like this gets a pass from me if it’s funny, but that isn’t funny — it’s just lame in that particular pathetic wannabe-VICEy way that I remember reading a lot in now-dead lad mags (FHM, RIP) circa 2005.  I guess whoever edited this is okay with alienating half of humanity?  Girls don’t ride bikes, after all.

longreads:

A trip through the “bike-crime underbelly”—and the futility of new technology when it comes to preventing it:

“Who Pinched My Ride?” — Patrick Symmes, Outside

See also: “Anatomy of a Greenpoint Bike Accident.” — Camille Dodero, Village Voice, Aug. 17, 2011

I was enjoying this #longread until I came to this paragraph:

"I rode the IRO through verdant Golden Gate, enjoying the smooth ride. I’d always thought single-speeds were an illin’ pose, but the IRO was nimble and ridiculously light. Standing on the pedals, I climbed past 15-speeders in my only gear. It was like having a skinnier, younger girlfriend."

Shit like this gets a pass from me if it’s funny, but that isn’t funny — it’s just lame in that particular pathetic wannabe-VICEy way that I remember reading a lot in now-dead lad mags (FHM, RIP) circa 2005.  I guess whoever edited this is okay with alienating half of humanity?  Girls don’t ride bikes, after all.

emilybooks

"Ask Amelio" by Emily Carter

longreads

Writer Emily Gould: My Top 5 Longreads of 2011

longreads:

Emily Gould is the author of And The Heart Says Whatever and the co-owner of Emily Books, and also she can’t stop blogging for some reason.

***

1. “Letter from Astana,” by Keith Gessen (New Yorker, sub. required)

The New Yorker’s “Letter From” essays, though they’re always entertaining and executed with finesse, can leave the reader with an impression that’s basically: “Kazakhstan (or wherever), how wacky.” Keith showed exactly how and why Kazakhstan’s history and political situation have created a unique way of life, and also those crazy skyscrapers in the middle of the steppe that make Williamsburg’s waterfront look tasteful. And he ate horse ham.  

2. “Dangerous Worlds: Teaching Film In Prison,” by Ann Snitow (Dissent Magazine)

Feminist critic and longtime New School professor Ann Snitow “leapt to join” a program that brings New School teachers to a correctional facility upstate out of “boredom”—she craved a challenge less played-out than trying to get college students to care about feminism, which she says is “everywhere and nowhere” in their lives. The result is one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever read. Snitow confronts her own preconceived notions and white liberal guilt head-on, but also gives herself credit for being a good teacher. She evokes her students’ complexity by describing their surprising, varied responses to the movies she assigns. At one point she gives them a speech: “I know in all your classes and workshops you’re being taught to take responsibility for what you’ve done, and I’m not saying no to that. But responsibility is different from shame. Best to see the endless tale of one’s badness as an inadequate story, meant to make you feel like a worm. OK, take responsibility, but also move on. Everyone is dependent; total independence is a myth. Inside or out, dependency is the human condition.” “This hectoring lecture hasn’t convinced anyone,” she writes, but I think she underestimates herself. 

3. “The Smelliest Block In New York,” by Molly Young (New York Magazine, not single-page)

I’m obsessed with smells and with New York, which contains maybe the world’s best and worst smells, often in the same two-block radius.  Molly Young’s descriptions of smells are a joy.  Her descriptions in general are a joy. She’s just getting better and better and I can’t wait to see what she does next. (My fantasy would be a regular column about smells, but that’s probably unrealistic.)

4. “Willis and Happiness,” by Rich Beck (n+1)

Here, Rich Beck breaks down and rearticulates one of groundbreaking radical feminist and pop culture critic Ellen Willis’s most powerful—and most confusing—arguments.  This is a must, must, must, must read for anyone interested in the past, present and future of the fight for equality.  

5. “The Aquarium,” by Aleksandar Hemon (The New Yorker, sub. required)

This and #2, I would recommend if it’s been a while since you last wept uncontrollably. There’s really not a lot else to say about this. It’s an unsentimental examination of a cosmically unfair event, the the kind of thing no one wants to acknowledge is possible, but which happens regularly. I have no idea how the author could stand to write it, unless he also couldn’t stand not to write it. The parts about his daughter’s imaginary friend are also very funny, incredibly. 

Bonus! (Kindle Single edition)

• “How A Book Is Born,” by Keith Gessen ($1.99)

I didn’t want to be disgusting and pick 5 things by my boyfriend but I wish I could assign anyone who thinks he or she might someday publish a book to read this long examination of how publishing works. The combination of virtue and talent coinciding with luck—the endless variables that combine to make a “literary” bestseller—just boggles the mind. This is stuff that many people who work in publishing or who work in novel-writing either don’t know or don’t allow themselves to consciously know. Buy this as a gift for your friend the corporate lawyer who keeps saying he’s going to take a sabbatical year to “write his novel.” 

• “American Juggalo,” by Kent Russell ($1.99)

Psychic forecast: the year-end Longreads best-of list next year will be everything people are saying right now about John Jeremiah Sullivan, but for the words “John Jeremiah Sullivan” substitute “Kent Russell.”

(photo credit: Stephen Deshler)

After I turned this in I of course thought of several essential additions to this list:

The End by Bennett Madison

Wrapping up first draft of a book/your youth

The Querent by Alexander Chee

Hard to describe anything Chee-related without sounding like the world’s biggest hippie but the man and his work are just, like, the locus of really powerful energy. This essay is about fortune-telling, storytelling, and being so focused on the future you can’t see the present.

Shamanism in the City by Marisa Meltzer

Ayahuasca tripping in NYC is expensive spiritual experience that requires a BYO barf bucket.

In Which We Learn How To Correctly Prepare A Canvas For Painting by Molly Lambert

"As with any fallow time, when I think about this period of my life I just wind up romanticizing it."

Chathexis by Elizabeth Gumport

in defense (sort of) of Gchat

Birds by Justin Wolfe

The best Freedom/Jonathan Franzen-related thing

Surprising Sweetness by Kristin Dombek

on The Book of Mormon and musicals vs. megachurches

you have to download the whole Occupy! Gazette (a pdf) (and you should)

to read Keith’s thing about the Zucotti occupation’s laundry. 

All The Angry People by George Packer

is also about the Zucotti occupation and Ray Kachel — read both

emilybooks
“The cheap pseudo-redemption of catharsis” is an occupational hazard for anyone with an Internet connection and the inclination to prove themselves to strangers. When you spend a lot of time online, it can begin to feel like everything you consume is produced by someone almost just like you, and in turn, that everything you produce is consumed by people who might as well be your friends. And when this is the case—or even if when just feels that way—there’s little incentive to explain yourself. It’s all too easy to work under the assumption that we all already “get” each other—all too tempting to expect outsized empathy from others. They know I don’t really mean that. They know that I know I should be ashamed, so it’s fine. But there’s merit in presuming that maybe, just maybe, your opinions don’t speak for themselves—that maybe, just maybe, you should work a little bit at defending them.

Alice Gregory, writing about “Sins of Confession” (1981) by Ellen Willis