The rocket had failed. Kim Jong-un snapped off his the monitor and turned to face his advisors. What could they possibly tell him? This was total failure. Five ashen men in uniform glittered in the gloom. They groveled and made excuses. Kim lifted a hand and batted the air as if to shoo a fly, and the men backed away slowly, heads bowed deeply in shame. He waited for them to leave and left the control room for his private chambers. The hallway smelled of sandalwood and cognac.
The widening gap between rich and poor is the central focus of the Occupy movement, and one of the most press- ing issues in the upcoming presidential election. Contrary to how it may feel on the ground, however, the gap is widening not because of spiraling poverty, but because of increas- ing wealth. From 1979 to 2007, the income of the richest 1 percent of American households increased by 224 percent, with the income of the richest .1 percent increasing by 390 percent; conversely, over the same period of time, the bottom 90 percent of Americans experi- enced income growth of 5 percent. This period of growing inequality has challenged sociologists, since many of the traditional barriers to wealth and status such as class, gender and race, have become more permeable. Today’s elite look different from those of the 1960s. What, then, is happening?
As a strategy “Translit” is not new. This so-called new genre sounds an awful lot like Moby Dick, minus the throbbing heartbeat of Captain Ahab pursuing his white whale; or the multi-faceted storytelling of a Thousand-and-One Nights. But all novels are a soup of partially digested hanks of literary matter. A typical chapter is a hybrid of drama, description and transcribed speech. And this soupiness is probably the reason why novels have defied easy categorization into genre since they evolved from the golden triad of Greek drama, tragedy and comedy. But it’s certainly fun to try nail it down and coin a new term. What is disturbing about this trumpeting of “Translit,” however, is Coupland’s suggestion that it is an effective strategy for dealing with “interconnectivity across time and space, just as interconnectedness defines the here and now.”
I do not follow contemporary cinema, but with the Oscars looming, I felt obliged to weigh in on the moving image as I experience it. Since I do not own a television and lack the sophistication and desire to sift through darknets and peer-to-peer file-sharing networks hunting for shows to download, I have resorted to Youtube’s never-ending supply of serial killer documentaries.
“The most masculine of cats,” tout defenders of the breed, and they are indeed rugged, solid creatures who look as if they ought to be de-mousing a lighthouse on the stormy coast of Maine rather than sprawling on the settee. That is, after all, what they were probably bred for. Picture a cat, a large one, with tufted ears and a lumbering gait and a cheerful disposition; a coat with an undercoat of insulation, and oversized paws fit for trampling snow or scurrying up a tree trunk. Drooping whiskers, a propensity to sprout extra toes on his feet, an unusually expressive tail, and a dour, owlish expression that is almost a pout complete the Maine Coon, a creature on the cusp of entering America’s national pantheon of icons.
Our brains are filled with the whispering of objects, the shrieking presence of things we lust after or despise or simply want to ignore but can’t for all the noise. It seems impossible to write fiction without addressing it but so little does. Part of this is the nature of the medium. The contemporary novel or short story is a ghostly place, a necropolis where memories are dissected and pinned to the page.
A large pile of garbage has accumulated outside my front door. One of my neighbors is fighting with our landlord. She leaves bags of refuse just outside of the receptacle, untied and upside down so as to better disgorge their payload of soiled panty-liners onto the pavement in front of our house. The cans are in a wire enclosure a few yards away, very easy to access; convenience and squeamishness are not the issue here.