Politics
Can stories change the way we think about death?

By Constance Grady

And the rest of the week’s best writing on books and related topics.

Welcome to the weekly Vox book link roundup, a curated collection of the internet’s best writing on books and related subjects. Here’s the best the web has to offer for the week of February 25, 2018.

Sometimes I wonder if I wrote a really bad book, and everyone is just afraid to tell me because my father is dead.

The final manuscript was due to the copyeditor the day after I found out. I could have gotten more time. Probably as much as I asked for. But I couldn’t abide the thought of it hanging over me in Oregon, at his funeral, after I came home and tried to return to my routines. And besides, I had not collapsed. I wasn’t weeping all the time. I had cried a little, but mostly I felt confused — and out of focus, as if I were viewing everything and everyone in the world through a new and mystifying fog.

The cover’s illustrator, Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme wrote on the poll: “It was nice working with you Terry. What you are doing is totally disrespectful. As if I didn’t create those covers accorded to exactly what I was told to do. In my entire career I have never seen an author behaving like that.”

The novelist’s memoir is a fascinating subgenre, if a slippery one when it comes to the truth. Writing autobiography, like all self-portraiture, is an art, even if it can be very lifelike. Novelists, whose daily craft involves making things up, know this all too well. So many different elements pull against the memoirist’s obligation to veracity – not least privacy, style, and the vagaries of memory — that some fiction is inevitably woven in.

The hardback is a mark of quality and a demonstration of intent on behalf of the publisher: it shows booksellers and reviewers that this is a book worth paying attention to. In fact some literary editors will still only review fiction (on first publication) if it’s published in hardback. Similarly, a hardback signifies to authors and agents that this is a book their publisher cares about, so much so that some agents (and authors) will insist upon it.

Then as now, it remains the most distinctive landmark in the area. But it is still, as Woolf described it, “so lonely,” reachable either along a winding “rabbit path round the cliff,” or by following a faintly visible path through fields dotted with grazing cattle and rudimentary stone steps. Taking in the faintly sweet smell of cow dung and the roar of the waters crashing against the rocks below, I didn’t pass a single soul on two trips in October.

If we want to reclaim the good death as part of the good life, we need to consider how we incorporate death in the stories we tell about ourselves. When we tacitly treat death as The End of every individual’s story, we only increase a collective sense of death’s unspeakability. What lies beyond the grave seems unthinkable in part because it remains unimaginable.

I realize that the spirit of young poetry coexists with the way violence has developed throughout the country. There is a general lack of trust in institutions, in the transparency of competitions where it sometimes appears that institutions and jurors have colluded. There is hopelessness in the face of a lack of critical social thinking, as well as limited opportunities for young people who are torn between unemployment and gentrification. The city once seemed a kind of refuge from the violence of life in the states, but it too is now stained with blood. Meanwhile, the authorities remind us that nobody really promised us anything, and in that nothing we must live. The young poets of Mexico who grew up with the idea of the ​​MTV rockstar, and who are overwhelmed by a painful reality, try to create from the chaos an identity full of divergent voices.

This book is total crapola. Pretentious, meandering, empty. Save your time and money and stare at a wall for a couple of weeks. You will look back at the time as having been more productive than reading this screwed up exercise in bad typing.

Writing, for me, is about questions — not answers. And Captain America, the embodiment of a kind of Lincolnesque optimism, poses a direct question for me: Why would anyone believe in The Dream? What is exciting here is not some didactic act of putting my words in Captain America’s head, but attempting to put Captain America’s words in my head. What is exciting is the possibility of exploration, of avoiding the repetition of a voice I’ve tired of.

Happy …read more

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