The Guardian reviews Newcomer by Keigo Higashino, Still Lives by Maria Hummel, The Stranger Diaries by Ellie Griffiths, A House of Ghosts by WC Ryan, Five Days of Fog by Anna Freeman and The Long Shadow by Celia Fremlin.

“I was brought up by a library.”

— Jules Renard.

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Morning.

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Cinephilia & Beyond

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“He said he wanted no posthumous publications. But on Thursday, more than over 30 years after his death, Michel Foucault had a new book, Confessions of the Flesh, published in France by Gallimard.” — The New York Times

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“It’s a rare piece of critical writing that can contemplate a mystery and deepen our understanding of it without “solving” it. This is criticism with the open-ended power, yet also the ambiguity, of the creative genius from whom it is derived. There is too much in this collection that doesn’t deserve renewed scrutiny; but when Ms. Smith is writing at her best, she is free, unfettered and alive.”

— Maureen Corrigan, WSJ

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Mark E. Smith

“Tributes to artists often end up being more about the person writing them, but MES provided me with an alternative education, looping me into Camus, and Arthur Machen, and William Blake, and Can, and dub and old garage punk and rock’n’roll. I saw the Fall 52 times and without MES my life would have been utterly different and nowhere near as much fun. What on earth are we all going to do with ourselves now?”

— Stewart Lee, The Guardian

Time Magazine makes comparisons between Ancient Rome and our current cultural and political climate.

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Literary Hub has published Haruki Murakami‘s account of how he became a novelist, related in his recent introduction to WIND/PINBALL: Two Novels. The piece, entitled ‘The Birth of My Kitchen Table Fiction’, is translated by Ted Goossen. The moment that inspired Murakami’s decision occurred during “[o]ne bright April afternoon in 1978, [during] a baseball game at Jingu Stadium”:

“In the bottom of the first inning, Hilton slammed Sotokoba’s first pitch into left field for a clean double. The satisfying crack when the bat met the ball resounded throughout Jingu Stadium. Scattered applause rose around me. In that instant, for no reason and on no grounds whatsoever, the thought suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel.

I can still recall the exact sensation. It felt as if something had come fluttering down from the sky, and I had caught it cleanly in my hands. I had no idea why it had chanced to fall into my grasp. I didn’t know then, and I don’t know now. Whatever the reason, it had taken place. It was like a revelation. Or maybe epiphany is the closest word. All I can say is that my life was drastically and permanently altered in that instant—when Dave Hilton belted that beautiful, ringing double at Jingu Stadium.”

— Literary Hub

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Includes Susan Sontag, Hanya Yanagihara, Georges Perec, Samuel Pepys, Brian Evenson, Erica Jong, and more — Literary Hub

Newly discovered photographs taken by the writer as a teenager are on show for the first time in Cape Town [Source: Financial Times]

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“A uniquely Brazilian form, crônicas offered readers free-form writing from writers of all kinds, including poets and novelists. Lispector’s adoring editor at the paper, Alberto Dines, simply published almost everything exactly as she submitted it.” [Source: The Paris Review]

I spent the greater part of this morning sorting through my books—for the second time this year. I decided to keep my favourite books (those that had the most personal and practical value) and donate everything else. My intention is to make use of the city libraries and local university libraries on a more regular basis. In the early afternoon I took three bags filled with novels, plays, and biographies to a local charity shop, and I am feeling better for it.

Call for Papers • Salzburg University, 17–21 July 2017
Brian O'Nolan/Flann O'Brien
Brian O’Nolan/Flann O’Brien

The International Flann O’Brien Society is proud to announce Acting Out: The IV International Flann O’Brien Conference, an international conference on the theme of performance, theatricality, and illusion in Flann O’Brien’s writing, hosted by the Department of English Studies at Salzburg University, 17-21 July 2017.

In recent years O’Brien’s writing has been foregrounded as an integral site for testing the rise of new modernist studies, as it troubles critical commonplaces about modernism itself by virtue of its ephemerality and parochial energies. Recent publications of out-of-print English and Irish-language columns, short stories, non-fiction, dramatic works for the stage, and teleplays for Raidió Teilifís Éireann have not only made O’Brien’s broader canon accessible to a new generation of scholars, but have also highlighted its importance to an understanding of modernism which ‘has grown more capacious, turning its attention to previously neglected forms’ (Rónán McDonald and Julian Murphet). (more…)

Why omitting ‘vulgar’ and ‘offensive’ words defeats the purpose

480a2-6a00d8341c4ec253ef00e54f05ad878833-800wiOxford Dictionaries recently embarked on a project to discover the world’s least favourite words, but publicly abandoned the project following “severe misuse” of its online survey. The decision to discontinue its #OneWordMap is understandable, due to the high volume of highly incendiary contributions intended to incite racial and religious hatred (eg. ‘Islam’, ‘Israel’).

But it seems that the survey was abandoned before it even began. The project had already banned the use of a select number of words from contributors. Dan Stewart, the head of international marketing at Oxford Dictionaries, states in The Guardian: “[we] filtered out words marked as vulgar and offensive in our dictionaries, but this wasn’t enough to prevent the misuse”. Does filtering out words not defeat the purpose of the exercise? (more…)