Sandra Cisneros
Sandra Cisneros

“Cisneros’s work allowed me to see the power in my culture’s storytelling tradition, and the power within myself.”

Kali Fajardo-Anstine and other Latinx writers
on the influence of Sandra Cisneros’s poetic coming-of-age novel,
The House on Mango Street.

bustle.com/p/how-sandra-cisneross-house-on-mango-street-influenced-5-latinx-authors-18713476

“It’s the start of 2016, and Smith’s friend Pearlman—a producer and rock critic—has been hospitalized after a brain hemorrhage. As he lies in a coma, Smith recounts the tumultuous year that follows—the loss of friends (Sam Shepard is nearly bedridden), the horror of the imminent election and rise of nationalism, and the impending climate crisis. A reflection on mortality, the book retains Smith’s characteristically flat tone as she wanders through stretches of Arizona, California, Virginia, and Kentucky, stopping at diners for black coffee and onion omelets and conversations with strangers. She hitchhikes from San Francisco to San Diego and back, travels as far as Lisbon, and returns home to the quiet of her Rockaway bungalow to stare at the flowers. All the while, she describes the mundane details of life with incredible vividness…”

Camille Jacobson on
Year of the Monkey,
a new memoir from Patti Smith.

theparisreview.org/blog/2019/10/11/staff-picks-monsters-monkeys-and-maladies/

Olga Tokarczuk
Olga Tokarczuk

“Olga’s work is crystal clear: her characters live on the page and speak for themselves… I’m ecstatic that so many more readers will now discover the entire trove of literature Olga has created over the course of her thirty-year career. Olga is the Nobel laureate. She’s the one the prize was made for.”

Jennifer Croft on Olga Tokarczuk,
who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

theparisreview.org/blog/2019/10/10/the-nobel-prize-was-made-for-olga-tokarczuk/

Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter

I went walking in the hills where I grew up
and thought about that John Muir phrase:

“Between every two pines there is a door leading to a new way of life.”

Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter
Photograph: Rhys Tranter

In these dark times
we look for the light.

nick-cave.jpg

“I felt very strongly that the communal suffering, and our ability to transcend it, was the thing that held us together. This was not some pessimistic worldview, quite the opposite really. It became clear that as human beings we have enormous capabilities that allow us to rise above our suffering – that we are hardwired for transcendence. […] [W]hether the lyric writing has changed, I would say that it has shifted fundamentally. I have found a way to write beyond the trauma […]. I found with some practise the imagination could propel itself beyond the personal into a state of wonder.”

Nick Cave

b56cf-margueriteduras
Marguerite Duras

“Writing is to write for oneself.”

Marguerite Duras, Me & Other Writing:
A new collection of non-fiction essays, translated for the first time into English by Olivia Baes and Emma Ramadan.
Introduction by Dan Gunn.

dorothyproject.com/book/me-other-writing/

giya-kancheli

“When I compose music, I don’t focus on the everyday collisions of life. I want to see it as a bird in flight, from a height, from an angle.”

Sad to learn that the Georgian composer
Giya Kancheli
died today in his home city of Tbilisi.

1935—2019

Ali-Smith-009

“I grew up on the margins, I inherited all the value of the margins. I know from all my reading and living that extraordinary things happen on the ­edges—the changes happen, the rituals happen, the magic, for want of a better word, happens on the edge of things. Everything is possible at the edge. It’s where the opposites meet, the different states and elements come together.”

— Ali Smith, qtd. in The Paris Review

Design: Rhys Tranter
Design: Rhys Tranter

“You must never, never despair, whatever the circumstances. To hope and to act, these are our duties in misfortune. To do nothing and despair is to neglect our duty.”

— Boris Pasternak, Doctor Zhivago

Samuel Beckett
Photograph: UPPA/Photoshot PAP/Photoshot

A new online database allows users to track down the location of every known letter, postcard, and correspondence by Samuel Beckett listed in a public archive. You can tbeckett.library.emory.edu.


“Look, pay attention to the small things in the world, speak the truth as best as you can”

— Teju Cole

© Harald Vatne
© Harald Vatne

“[W]hen he first arrived in Skjolden, Wittgenstein wasn’t exactly alone. He lodged in the village with the family of the local postmaster in one of the distinctive two-storey clapboard houses that huddle together where a fast-flowing river empties into the fjord. Skjolden today looks pretty much as it did in 1913, save for the village’s only hotel, a later arrival, where I stayed in a room with spectacular views down the V-shaped valley of Lustrafjord.

While he was not entirely free of human company in the village, Wittgenstein was at least able to eschew the sort of sophisticated society that tormented him in Cambridge (and his native Vienna, for that matter). In Skjolden, he wrote, “my day passes between logic, whistling, going for walks, and being depressed”. I suspect the highly convivial evening I spent eating a burger and drinking locally brewed craft beer in the hotel bar while guests watched English Premier League football would not have been to the philosopher’s taste.

It was during this first visit to Skjolden that Wittgenstein engaged a local builder to construct the house on Eidsvatnet, a little lake at the end of the fjord. It had three rooms: a small living room, a kitchen and bedroom. There was also an attic with a balcony. When Wittgenstein spent nine months at the house in 1936-37, working on what would become his second, posthumous masterpiece, Philosophical Investigations, villagers would see him in the distance pacing back and forth, pondering the complete overhaul of his views about the nature of logic and language.

Alois Pichler, who runs the Wittgenstein Archives at the University of Bergen, says Wittgenstein was “suffering a lot” during this sojourn — suffering that was partly philosophical (how, he wondered, do we unravel the confusions in which many of the discipline’s traditional problems consist?) and partly spiritual (how do we reckon with our own sins?). There was a meteorological dimension to this too. I was there in the mild, slightly damp Nordic summer. Wittgenstein endured an autumn and winter on the lake. By October of 1936, he was writing to a friend: “The weather has changed from marvellous to rotten. It rains like hell now.” The friend responded by sending Wittgenstein a sou’wester.

The only suffering I endured on my visit to “Austria” was caused by trying to keep up with Vatne as he powered up the narrow path with the aid of hiking poles. Once we reached the top, he showed me round the reconstructed house. There, I sat at a facsimile of Wittgenstein’s writing table by the living room window as I made an entry in the visitors’ book.

“We have tried to bring the house back to what it was,” Vatne says. He and his colleagues have succeeded spectacularly. Now that the house has been rebuilt on its glorious original site, the Wittgenstein Foundation plans to make it available to study groups and individual visitors. The foundation also has more ambitious plans to develop Skjolden as a destination for philosophically themed travel.”

Source: Jonathan Derbyshire, The Financial Times

Reading Jon Krakauer‘s Into the Wild. A compelling account of the tragic story of Chris McCandless and his idealistic trek into the Alaskan wilderness. At the same time, the book offers a cultural history of the fascination wild spaces hold in the modern imagination.