“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.
You never look directly at the face. Catch only glimpses of it and those glimpses are ever changing. One moment he is a she. The next there is a hissing void where a face should be. The only constant is an hourglass that hangs above its pillow, a cartoonish thing with the year 2011 stamped on one side and only five grains remaining and one of those grains is about to fall.
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.
Writers are anxious about the Internet and all things electronic, as we worry these newfangled ways of entertaining ourselves might someday obviate our own work. The solution, perhaps, lies in understanding and adapting to this new medium. Consuming enough that we can master its complexities and render appealingly intelligent confections for our readers. But who are these readers? Are they different online than they are in print? Some of them aren’t even human. There is a new form of reader browsing the Internet. For this is no longer just the age of mechanical reproduction; we now have to contend with mechanical readers as well. [LINK]
TOM MCCARTHY’S 2005 debut, “Remainder”, managed what the jackets of so many first novels promise: a fresh and—in this case—unsettling take on contemporary life. It is about a brain-damaged man who marshals millions of pounds and a troupe of actors, consiglieres and forensic experts to reconstruct a memory. It is an intentionally confusing and difficult book that manages to draw on both Proust and Beckett, yet remain intoxicatingly readable…
This month editorial control of the Paris Review, a pre-eminent American literary magazine, changed hands from Philip Gourevitch to Lorin Stein, now a former senior editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux (and an occasional contributor to this magazine). While at FSG, Stein made his name finding and refining such authors as Elif Batuman, Lydia Davis, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jonathan Franzen, Denis Johnson, Sam Lipsyte, Richard Price and James Wood. He also worked on FSG’s recent translations of fiction by Roberto Bolaño and personally translated from the French “The Mystery Guest” by Gregoire Bouillier… [LINK]
Jessica Jackson Hutchins, Couch For a Long Time, 2009
Sleet spattered over VIPs queuing outside for the opening of the Whitney Biennial on February 23rd. We suffered in silence, in darkness, our conversations drowned by the monastic groaning of an outdoor installation that cast an eerie blue hue. Dumpling trucks prowled and rogue cameramen interviewed some on a scrap of red carpet. We inched along as the storm intensified, sentries sifting us into various purgatories….[link]
As an X-certificate actress, Sasha Grey perfected a thrashing sensuality far more cathartic and psychologically fraught than her moaning, grunting contemporaries. Her smouldering looks and unapologetic public appearances snared millions of mostly male fans and turned the teen porn performer into a cult figure.
For the most part, the crowd attending the recent launch of Paper Monument’s pamphlet “I Like Your Work: Art and Etiquette” were polite indeed–a relief for an elbow-averse attendee squished into a dimly lit artist space in Brooklyn. To explain the nature of this politesse, to unpack the intricacies of class, affect and social rank at play in the overheated yoga studio, could span volumes. So it is a clever feat to boil this insight down into a trim monograph…