Illustration by Ping Zhu
Learning to coexist once again with long-vanished wildlife isn’t a new issue in New England. In recent years, Massachusetts has seen an explosion in the populations of beavers, turkeys, deer, and bears, creating a host of problems: beaver dams flooding neighborhoods, turkeys chasing pedestrians, deer scampering across highways in the night. But the return of mountain lions—animals known to kill pets, livestock, and, on rare occasions, even humans—is something altogether different, an event that would surely change the way we walk through the woods and play in our yards, if nothing else.
These characters, these editors and writers, frequently call attention to their implausibility—that is, if they don’t discover that they’re characters in a novel and stage a mutiny, as in “The Comforters,” in which a young writer realizes that Muriel Spark intends to make a fictional character out of her and tries to leap from the frame by changing her travel plans at the last minute or missing appointments she thinks are important to the narrative. To read Spark is always to read about reading. By populating her novels with memoirists and poets, cranky publishers, well-connected hacks, all of them arguing about what makes a character, what propels a sentence, and did you hear about so-and-so’s advance, she draws our attention repeatedly to the artifice of the novel. She loves reminding us that every word—this phrase, that comma—was brought together by human hands, for your pleasure. That’s the point of all those catchphrases. Every time Jean Brodie tells us that she’s in her prime, it’s Spark’s voice we hear, and we’re reminded of who wields the puppet strings.What Muriel Spark Saw : The New Yorker
Nancy Lord and Irene Owsley were collaborative artists-in-residence in 2013 with the Voices of the Wilderness program, in the U.S. Forest service’s Nellie Juan-College Fiord Wilderness Study Area. This video essay is one of the outcomes of their collaboration.
Often I think readers pick up literature in translation expecting it to be adventurous and experimental. There’s a long tradition of fiction from writers like Calvino, Borges, Murakami, Cortazar, and Kobo Abe where the formal experiments are part of the attraction. They’re a key ingredient in what makes their fiction so enjoyable. Maybe readers are willing to embrace this because translated titles seem like they’ve already been vetted: another publisher thought enough to translate them and they’re often accompanied by glowing reviews from around the globe. When these books get strange, the reader is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Or maybe it’s a case of believing that writers construct books differently outside the U.S. and therefore aren’t bound by the same rules. Because, certainly, describing a book by a U.S. author as experimental seems to be shorthand for “difficult,” “pretentious,” and “no fun.” Most people suddenly feel like they’re being asked to eat their vegetables – and these vegetables also happen to be covered in shit.Jeff Jackson
Geoff Diego Litherland, “Forever Just Keeps Going”
In fútbol there is art, genius, bad luck, Gods and Demons, freedom and fate, flags hymns and tears, and above all the discovery that although Brazil is bad at a lot of things, it is good with the ball. It is a football champion which is very important. After all, it is better to be the champion in samba, carnival and football than in war and the sale of rockets.Roberto DaMatta, quoted in The Ball Is Round by David Goldblatt
An artists collective has unfurled a massive poster showing a child’s face in a heavily bombed area of Pakistan in the hopes that it will give pause to drone operators searching the area for kills. @ The Raw Story
Paper replicas of internet routers, passports, subway passes and iPhones were among some of the gifts offered in China to departed loved ones during this weekend’s celebration of Qingming Jie, a day to honor one’s deceased relatives. As younger Chinese play a larger role in the annual holiday known in English as Tomb Sweeping Day, it’s become an occasion to look at what Chinese shoppers are thinking about most. (via What China burned for Day of the Dead says a lot about shopping trends among the living – Quartz)