“Be authentic. Follow things and people you’re actually interested in. Tweet the way you talk in real life. People follow those that give them information that is informative, inspiring, and funny.”—Ryan Pittington outlines some pro-tips for literary tweeting in I Know I Should Tweet.
“It’s a beautiful moment, akin to watching a baby take his first few steps, forever harnessing a powerful human mechanism. Congo could literally only understand what he had done to others by viewing the act take place through the power of cinema, by ingesting it through the medium he valued most. This film is a testament to the sheer, unbridled power of cinema and is, in a certain way, the picture of the ideal filmmakers: narrowly focused, greatly awed by the power of movies, and deeply human.”—The Rumpus Review of The Act of Killing by Dustin Waldman.
“I spend all night thinking about bopping Karen ASAP like that would prove she’s right for me. Then immediately before sunup I sneak out of my cabin with the secret mission of finding hers. I want to ask if she’s also homesick. I hope it’s not just me. That would be a huge disappointment, being the only one. I plan for the immediate future: if all is quiet on the front porch, and on the lawn, and the Bop Stoppers have convened for a debrief, then I’ll sneak with her into the trees, where we can touch each other. Maybe we’ll get naked and laugh about how stupid in love we are.”—Weekly Rumpus Fiction: Ian Bassingthwaighte
“The majority opinion was against
My “vacation” my “shadow” my “vacation,”
When will I learn to be the author of my own invention?
This from the spider descending the shade”—A snipper from Rag by Julie Carr, reviewed at The Rumpus by Benjamin Landry.
“The characters in these stories often build their lives on speculation, on things one read somewhere (that thing about a frog acclimating to boiling water if you raise the temperature slowly enough gets mentioned twice), and sometimes on theories that don’t quite hold up in practice. Moore’s characters are usually lonely, and loneliness can breed a certain sort of unreliability, the associative loopiness of a person who’s gone too long without meeting one of their basic needs, like sleep or food or human interaction.”—Shannon Elderon reviews Bark by Lorrie Moore
“I am the air in the room. I am the mint in the planter in the corner of the room. I am holding my breath. I do not need to breathe. I am numb. I am the girl I was in high school who cut herself to feel, even if the thing I felt was pain. Because she was numb in every other way. Because I had locked up every feeling, because I was taught that vulnerability and sadness and helplessness were unacceptable and I would catch those feelings in a net every night and tamp them down, so that I became the expert fisherman of my emotions. But like mint, they never died.”—Mint by Christine Hyung-Oak Lee
“The story begins with sugar, / the dark and muscular storm / of a horse, and its epicurean propensity for sweets….I think we were meant to love you; / just as the boy, who should not have / lived, keeps roping his noodle arms / around the base of the neck of The Black”—From “Clarence Muse Stars as The Magical Negro in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Black Stallion (1979)” in Darktown Follies by Amaud Jamaul Johnson, reviewed by Sean Singer
In the center of my gynecologist’s office sat a huge oak desk, like a giant freighter anchored on the navy blue carpet. Both he and my mother looked at me with expectant and worried faces. There were stands set up on his desktop for drawings of women who stood to the front and then to the side, their skin peeled off to show the amorphous pink shapes inside them. I was grateful for my clothes.
“Well,” my gynecologist said, “there’s an area behind your uterus called the cul-de-sac.”
“The cul-de-sac?” I asked. “Like the circle down the street that everyone turns their cars around in?”
“In any narrative the I, I, I, me, me, me is completely self-destructive, so when you make the decision to inhabit these scenes as you would do for a novel or a short story, you have to think of the other characters involved and understand what they’re seeing. That’s the part that was exhilarating because it brought them back to life.”—The Rumpus Interview with Geoffrey Wolff
“I don’t know why it is, but I just feel like I really want to escape myself as much as I can—myself as the artist, or as the writer, or as the thinker—with each new project, because one, it’s just boredom, but also, I guess I just feel most comfortable starting a new book if I just feel a little in the dark about it.”—The Rumpus Interview with Chang-rae Lee
“Although Oreste is a clueless nomad, he discovers that simply by pushing the red button on his EpiPen he’s able to teleport and fix electronic appliances. He magically makes busted blenders spin their blades and radios retrieve their signals. He becomes a quick-buck-making mechanic. But the gig is short lived and he mysteriously lands back at home with two angry parents and few explanations. Ashamed, he decides, “sometimes dignity is achieved by humiliating oneself. It seems confusing, but it’s not: it’s the life we poor people have to live.””—Julie Morse reviews Quesadillas by Juan Pablo Villalobos
“Janet Mock is not playing the game of respectability politics. She could, if she wanted, be a kind of trans woman Bill Cosby, at pains to make an example of her normalcy, eager to give an image makeover to trans people at large. “I have been held up consistently as a token,” she says in her new memoir Redefining Realness, “as the ‘right’ kind of trans woman (educated, able-bodied, attractive, articulate, heteronormative).” But having grown up low-income, multiracial, and trans, Mock knows too much about being the wrong kind of woman to glory in exceptionalism. Since the 2011 profile in Marie Claire in which she announced herself as a trans woman, she’s started the #GirlsLikeUs Twitter campaign and become a spokesperson and activist for trans issues. The profile more or less maintained the rhetoric of respectability, leading with her “supportive man” and “enviable career” as editor of People.com. But now Mock is telling her own story, and she does not omit the dark, the delicate, and the potentially disreputable.”—Rachel Luban reviews Redefining Realness by divine human Janet Mock.
“Everyone deserves not just to survive, but to live. This is the most important legacy of Solomon Northrup. I dedicate this award to all people who have endured slavery and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today.”—Steve McQueen (via propertyoffrankgrimes)
“Almost asleep, you think you make out
her breath, the rasp of abalone
scraping the walls of the abyss. Imagine
how strong they are, pink flesh pulling
to the rock with a single touch. Your tongue
swirling in the empty, iridescent shell.”—From Trapline by Caroline Goodwin, San Mateo County poet laureate. Read Lisa Cheby’s full review over at The Rumpus!
“Make no mistake about it, the people who have been in this community for decades… decades! have made Bed-Stuy a flavorful stew, comprised of equal parts, ups and downs. Definitely imperfect, it’s a neighborhood that prides itself on being fully human. And that’s the only kind of “civilized” I need. To paraphrase Spike Lee from his recent interview at Pratt (yes, that interview), there does tend to be this Christopher Columbus mentality, this glimmer of discovery in the eyes of many of our new neighbors. A blind entitlement that allows them to arrogantly ignore the deep footprints they now nestle their feet into. But we’ve been here and it’s the lack of acknowledgment of that that’s problematic. Bed-Stuy doesn’t need fixing because Bed-Stuy is not broken or unsteady. It doesn’t need to be renewed or rebuilt or even rebranded. It just needs to be respected.”—
“The more you take away, the more the world opens up. This is a poetic way of saying that Lakshmi was living vicariously through the amputation and relocation of her body parts. To an outsider she looked like a stump in a stroller, but within her own perception, within a single moment, she saw ocean waves lick the sand, she tasted the finest chocolates, she dipped her toes into a lake, she heard a woman scream.”—Weekly Rumpus Fiction: N. Michelle AuBuchon
“The circumscribed lives of these mostly Danish characters become familiar to us, and as their restrictions narrow further, the stories themselves, strangely, engorge into fullness. Nors is adroit at offering powerful summation at the precise moment with a single cutting phrase or an unexpected observation.”—Kevin Nolan reviews Karate Chop by Dorthe Nors over at The Rumpus.
“Syllables! Syllables! My heart is in my mouth, I put
her foot in my mouth, my mouth was stopped, not that this
To be human is a syndrome
And no marker, no, not my tongue can wag that not-dog
The homeless arm drags,
Eye wanders from its orbit.
I lie in bed amidst the trickles, my candle blows out,
Tissue thickens and deposits they compress, they seem no
Longer mobile, the be-
Longing slips away,
The lung congests, say ah,
What memory, what gives?
It is the bat slips its fur.
The flying worm slips its skin.
The angel sheds its light, it is a baby
Balanced on the pan against the folds and corrugations,
A pink pointed shoe, priapic but a sheath for my eye.”—From “What Gives” by John Wilkinson, in his new book of poems Reckitt’s Blue, reviewed at The Rumpus by Patrick James Dunagan.