It would never have occurred to me before I had the opportunity to work on the Nazi-era cases to file claims on behalf of comfort women who had been forced into sex slavery in WWII. I wouldn’t have seen the possibilities, but, after the Swiss case, I saw the possibilities, and I pursued other categories of large-scale litigation, including other human rights cases, on behalf of worldwide groups. I had learned to think big.
At the same time, the litigation humbled me. No matter how hard I worked on behalf of my clients, I could never truly make them whole. The best my colleagues and I could do for them was to provide an imperfect, incomplete and long-delayed justice. Litigation is a powerful tool for social justice, but it has its limits.
“I’m not sure what I’m after besides writing the best book I think I can write and having a feeling inside me that I’m taking a risk or trying new things from book to book. Style equals personality and you have to strip away the bulk of your influences to dig out the you and place it on the page. And that includes your flaws too. I think I’ve made so many mistakes in my books, but that makes me proud. It feels real and human. The style and logic and images don’t have to always be clean and flawless because clean and flawless can also put you to bed. A lot of the old books I love—and even old music—are full of imperfections or a certain kind of raw quality, and that’s what makes it.”—The Rumpus Interview With Shane Jones.
“The aesthetic of brokenness, of jarring incompleteness, stands against the perfection of Water Lillies, or Brundage’s father’s last “empty” paintings of a field, where his own ashes are scattered after his death. It’s an homage to the jagged aesthetic of underground music itself, a tradition that stretches back past the Sex Pistols to the Dadaists. But this also implies a more fundamental view of how artists keep creating. By the end of the novel, Brundage accepts that there is nothing to be hoped for except this incompleteness, and the possibility it creates for more work, for more possibilities: “I cannot begin to understand what it is to feel the weight of the work drop away and be unable to retrieve it … I cannot understand it, I do not want to understand it.” In the work of art itself, Brundage says, we “salvage what we can” — echoing T.S. Eliot: “These fragments I have shored up against my ruins” — a paradoxical act, an act of rebellion against both loss and permanence.”—Thomas H. McNeely reviews Wonderland by Stacey D’Erasmo.
“Right now there is a shortage of water in California. One of the worst in its history. The people in the cities may be fortunate enough to not notice it, but it’s those in the rest of the state are being hit hard. I’m surprised by this because of California’s close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, which is almost nothing but water. According to my calculations it’s about 80% water, 10% fish, and 10% mystery.”—TED WILSON REVIEWS THE WORLD #246: the California Drought gets 2 out of 5 stars.
“Unfortunately, casinos have introduced gross amounts of social injustice in the form of tribal disenrollment. That’s when a tribe changes its criteria for membership and subsequently kicks people out of the tribe. Can you imagine? You spend your whole life on a reservation, and one day someone comes and tells you that you have to leave because you’re not a member of the tribe anymore? And it’s more than just being kicked out: you’re stripped of your identity, what makes you you. In California, a tribe kicked out an old woman, a tribal elder, who was one of the few people left who still spoke the language! It’s a big problem in many tribal communities, especially the smaller ones, which are essentially clans. What’s to stop someone who presides over the tribal council that your family had a beef with a decade ago from kicking you out? Sadly, very little. In the story of scarcity versus surplus, surplus almost always leads to corruption. It’s no different on the rez than it is in the rest of the world.”—The Rumpus Interview with Jim Ruland
“My copy of Catherine Lacey’s debut novel is dog-eared to the degree of making all those folded corners pointless. The book is one large dog-eared page, because you don’t have to flip far to find sentences and sentiments that make you pause and stare at the words, those simple marvels, and emit the sort of soft “oh” that usually comes after finishing a poem.”—Scott Onak reviews Nobody is Ever Missing by Catherine Lacey
In Episode 16 of Make/Work, host Scott Pinkmountain speaks with composer, performer, and instrument builder Cheryl E. Leonard. Leonard is known for creating compositions using materials she finds in the natural world—things like stones, wood, water, ice, sand, shells, and feathers. She’s travelled as far as the Arctic and Antarctica in search of new sounds like calving glaciers and her set of penguin bone instruments.
Leonard talks about some of the challenges of making her microscopically quiet music while living in a city, like having to wake at 3 a.m. and climb into her closet to record. She also discusses the benefits she gets from her other two passions, Aikido and mountaineering, and how making art doesn’t necessarily trump those things.
Tonight I had the opportunity to cook in my new apartment for the first time. I was sick of sandwiches and shitty food. Before I moved I was telling Twitter I basically only have one knife, and it is serrated at that. They shamed me, appropriately, so during the move, I bought a big girl knife set with a German name and also used my new knives for the first time. Well, I used one of them, and the first order of business was slicing an onion and then I sautéed that onion in olive oil. I was craving Mexican and I needed protein but I also wanted something resembling healthy.
As I was cooking, I was thinking about flirtation and how women have been very ummmm friendly with me at my readings lately. I have been friendly back. I am flirtatious. I am and it is especially fun when flirtation is mutual. It has done my ego good to be flirted with by lovely people. When you reach a certain age, it’s nice to have reminders that you’re still interesting to at least a couple people. Tattoos are always a great conversation starter and for whatever reason, they compel people to reach out and touch. “What’s the story behind this?”
Oh this old thing, smile, batting of the eyes. Well, let me tell you.
It’s interesting…women will walk right up to me in public and make their interest known. Men send pictures of their dicks. I’m not always opposed to the later but the contrast is kind of funny.
The thrill of flirtation will never take the place of the magnetic pull of you, always you.
I took a can of Amy’s refried beans and added them to my softened onions. It looked absolutely horrifying. I’m sorry but refried beans look like dog shit. I was really dismayed staring down into my pan.
I had a conversation with my mother this evening. With all the press that’s out there, I have no secrets and my parents have been tentatively trying to talk to me about The Thing. For the first time in my life, she blurted out, “I need to talk about your rape.” There was no more talking around it. There were no vagaries or using someone else’s story to have a conversation about me or our family. She asked, “Have you gotten help?” She said, “Give me their names.” She asked, “How could I not know?” She asked, “Are you okay?”
It’s hard for me to have this kind of conversation with my mother because she is an exceptional mother and I don’t want her to feel hurt or responsible. I don’t want to shatter what she knew of my childhood though I suppose that illusion is no longer possible.
She asked, “Why did you go public with the story? Is that because you’re over it?” I said, “I haven’t been private with it for quite some time, but really, I’m as over it as I’m going to be and I cannot stay quiet anymore.” She was quiet for a moment and then she said, “I understand how something like this, you never really forget or move on from.” She said, “Your father is struggling with this.” She said, “It’s strange how children never tell their parents the things they most need to tell them.”
Then we moved on to other things and I stopped holding my breath but as with the last sort of conversation we had, I instantly feel lighter. They understand me more now, I think, and that’s good. I want them to understand me.
I want to be understood.
I added fresh Roma tomatoes and cilantro, salt and pepper and chilli powder to the beans and let that simmer. I loved the pop of green the cilantro provided.
I was ON THE RADIO In Ireland. I was interviewed by BUST and I have a considerable bust so that worked out well.
I WAS ON KCRW TODAY (if you scroll down the page you can listen to my segment, or you can listen to the entire episode, which was really good). The interviewer asked me about The Thing. There was an uncomfortable moment where my voice caught in my throat, where I just wanted to vomit and run away from the radio station. There are moments when time collapses and there is no preparing for that moment, none. Will that horrible feeling truly never go away? This, is a life sentence but I try not to live my life like i have been sentenced.
Eventually, the beans were ready and I was ready because I was hungry.
There is a tattoo I have been thinking of getting—two letters, two numbers that are really one number, an infinity symbol, bold lines, surrounded by tribal ink work. Right now the tattoo is an idea. It might always be an idea but I know what it looks like.
Bad Feminist was #13 last week and it is #16 this week and it is sold out in many stores and it is going into a fourth printing. I ordered groceries on the Internet and a strapping young man in tight khaki pants delivered them to me. This tumblr now has more than 100,000 followers.
I keep trying to feel worthy. The boss of me gets rather testy when I say that. She made me write out, “I am worthy,” thirty-three times. I repeat this as a mantra. I try to believe. This is not humility. This is overwhelm and surprise. I won’t Taylor Swift this. Soon, I will accept all of this, as best I can. Soon. And I will make sure to do something good with whatever this is, not for myself, but for others.
I made little tacos withe lettuce and light sour cream and cheese and raspberry chipotle salsa and this was a very delicious dinner. Everything in my new kitchen works as it should.
The new semester begins on Monday and I am nervous and excited and not even a little bit prepared so that’s what I will spend the rest of my week doing.
I do wear a ring on a certain finger. I am often asked about it. Sometimes, a commitment is silent and it may never become spoken, may never become anything more than an idea of what could have been, but that commitment is still there, beneath the ring and the pale tan line, in the skin and in the blood and in the breath and in the beating of a heart.
“Kerouac has never been one of my literary heroes, but I confess to some magic here. Time and space—no greater gift exists for a writer, but I believe it’s this specific place. Kerouac’s Underwood typewriter sits on a built-in shelf, his books cram the bookcases. A triptych of him typing in the very same bedroom hangs above the single bed, a close-up by the washing machine. He and Neal Cassady stare down at me from above the living room mantle, the two in front of City Lights. When I work in the study, Jack is always behind my back, another large sketch of him on the wall. In short, it’s impossible to forget whose house I’m in.”—Kerouac’s House and the End of Doubt by Sion Dayson
“When she is feeling despairing, she goes to eddies at the mouth of the river and tries to comb the water apart with her fingers. The Straightfoward Mermaid has already said to five sailors, “Look, I don’t think this is going to work,” before sinking like a sullen stone. She’s supposed to teach Rock Impersonation to the younger mermaids, but every beach field trip devolves into them trying to find shells to match their tail scales. They really love braiding.”—"The Straightforward Mermaid" in If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? by Matthea Harvey, reviewed by Jeannine Hall Gailey
“Inginir,” [Rochina] said, using the family’s nickname for her husband—the Pashto word for “engineer” was used to describe an educated man—“is coming home today.”
Then, turning to me so only I could see it, she took her delicate hand, balled into a fist, and bit down on her pinky knuckle. She gasped softly, feigning breathlessness, grinned at me, then returned to stirring the stew.
This was sexier than all of the deleted scenes from the [Afghan version of] Titanic combined.
“Simone Muench: As I was reading across a variety of international poetry and American poetry, I discovered that so many writers utilize the wolf—Vasko Popa, Ted Hughes, Tomas Transtomer, Emily Dickinson, etc.
Ellen: Did you specifically search for poems with wolf once you had that theme in mind? Or did you just let them find you?
“Stroman was convicted of murder. The survivor, Rais Bhuiyan, was tangential to Stroman’s swift trial, where the defense lawyer never even tried to argue that his client was not guilty of the killings. The real battle was in sentencing: the law in Texas (and possibly elsewhere) doesn’t list a hate crime against a stranger as eligible for capital punishment. Even though Stroman declared before and after that he was an “American Terrorist,” bent on revenge for the Twin Tower attack, the prosecution had to use Stroman’s thwarted request for money in the last shooting to elicit the death penalty, only accessible for a murder committed in the course of another crime—in this case, a robbery.”—Padma Wiswanathan reviews The True American by Anand Giridharadas.
“Most Africans I know, mainly Ugandans, know what they’ve seen in movies and on TV. The assumption is that we are all rich and that is largely correct. Compared to the average Ugandan, even a middle class working Ugandan, we are wealthy. And they see the US as a violent country. I talked to many who expressed concern about coming here because of all the violent crime, all the shootings. People coming into churches and schools and opening fire was very alarming to the Africans I know.”—The Rumpus Interview With Douglas Cruickshank
Despite his young age—he’s only in his thirties—Luke Goebel has been extraordinarily active as a writer and editor of literary fiction. He is the winner of FC2’s 2012 Ronald Sukenick Prize for Innovative Fiction and served as co-editor for many years of The New York Tyrant where he worked with and published works by Padgett Powell, Gordon Lish, Pam Ryder, Brian Evenson, among others. Despite these achievements, Goebel remains charming and filled with boyish jubilation. Throughout our many conversations over the years, he regularly hoots and yelps about his encounters with the various, splendid mysteries of the natural world—an eagle feather, an animal carcass, the branched veins running across an elderly man’s arm. These sightings undoubtedly influence the energetically coarse and tender affectations of his fiction. I recently read that Luke Goebel “stands six foot one hundred and packs a loaded coal pistol.” In all honesty, I believe him.
Rumpus co-owner and Buzzfeed Books editor Isaac Fitzgerald sits down with Mellow Pages Library for a podcast discussion. They talk about Fitzgerald’s blog-to-book project Pen & Ink, his career path, and his transcontinental journey to New York to work at Buzzfeed.
“When I was starting out there was no Internet, there wasn’t this sense that you could be connected to other writers around the world. And that created a kind of innocence, or parochial quality, even in NYC. The literary world felt small and insular. I mean, are you aware of this Binder of Women Writers group on Facebook that just formed? Something like 20,000 writers leapt in, there was such hunger for community for connection. There is a water cooler now—and there are a lot of wonderful things about that, though it does create a hell of a lot of distraction and noise.”—The Rumpus Interview With Dani Shapiro.
“My website (iamtedwilson.com) is 100% free to everyone as long as you have the Internet. If you don’t have the Internet you can mail me a SASE and I will print out a copy of my website and mail it back to you. If the printer at Kinkos breaks I will even write down my website by hand. Please expect 8-10 weeks for delivery if that should happen.”—TED WILSON REVIEWS THE WORLD #245. He gives his website 4 out of 5 stars.
Rumpus: Well, we’re aiming to bring some fun back to poetry. Would you say being a poet is fun?
Anderson: Not especially. Let’s put it this way, if you consider tireless self-doubt, a near obsessive attention to detail and the corresponding, nagging sense that you just aren’t getting it right, and a hesitancy to actually tell anyone what you do with your working hours fun, then, hell yeah, it’s a blast. That said, there can also be great satisfaction when you have gotten something right, and that’s what keeps me doing it, I suspect.
These yellow April evenings I, no longer idealistic or inclined to wish my life were something that it’s not, sip gin-and-tonics and enjoy a fragrant breath of just-mown grass. Immaculately laned front lawns are flower-crowned, our windows bright and clean. The lime-wedge bobbing in my glass suggests an effervescent, new and utterly surprising thought of green. Who could complain? Yet someone surely will, about the pollen count or lack of rain. Not me. No one is happier than I to watch the sprinkler’s grainy rainbow spill across broad vacancies of watered light or study sun-glazed copper weathervanes stamped against the cloud-flown April sky.
But still, it happens nearly every spring— a blossomed stroll through Holy week, Good Friday off, a lull, and then that sadness Easter Sundays always bring. It’s hard saying exactly why. it’s not as if I even got to church, though there are those who wish I would. Why isn’t it enough just being good? Extending charity, I mean, kindness, compassion, concern, and love? All things I like to think I do. Who needs an organist and choir, a brass collection plate, the priest, and an excruciating pew? Truth is, it’s something that I’ve often understood: a deep desire to believe and belong. Communion in a stony, cool and solemn atmosphere. Women who dress and smell like fresh-cut flowers. Men starched and ironed, splashed with aftershave. The comfort someone’s looking after us. That kind of reassurance has a price— worship with purpose, prayer on time, ice-cream socials, driving kids to camp, reading to shut-ins, selling Christmas wreathes. It’s not enough, just being nice, and I suppose I understand this, too.
But what about the ones who get it wrong, who do all this and still despise the stupid and the ugly and the poor? Perhaps they celebrated God in song, tithed 10 percent and kneeled to pray, but then two-timed the marriage, harbored hate against their neighbors, screwed a friend or two— not even really anything that’s new. It’s just so dull. You’d think they’d preach a little less, not judge so much. But who am I to say? It’s just so dull, that righteous indignation of the blessed.
My next-door neighbor hates my guts, at least when we talk politics he does. He loves me like a brother, though, when we talk gardening, cooking, music, dogs. We plan long weekend trips we’ll never take— wine country or the coast. Our families eat together once a week or more. This is not paradise, I know. This is not paradise, it’s only home. And yet imperfect as it is, it would be difficult to disagree, another Easter days away, that home seems just about as flawless now as it may ever be.
“Now, it seems clear that part of the reason I love Hook is because it was the movie that made me fall in love with Robin. Watching it is like revisiting a memory of love-at-first-sight.”—The Last Movie I Loved: Hook by Chloe Schildhause.
“Who are these “Holy Ghost People”? I suspect you’ll want to know. They are described this way in the dramatis personae: “a group of men & women who claim to have traveled through space & time to share the true word of god with the people of earth. they walk around in white flowing cloth. the holy ghost people distrust what the people of earth claim to be god & they mistrust what the people of earth claim to be science. they claim to know, & to have been sent by, the real god.””—Julie Marie Wade reviews The Holy Ghost People by Joshua Young.
“The term “tear gas” is a misnomer. For one thing, “tear gas” seems to imply something innocuous— you would think it’s just a chemical that makes you tear up. In fact, tear gas is a dangerous, potentially lethal chemical agent which is outlawed under the Chemical Weapons Convention for use during wartime. As the Omega Research Foundation argues: “Less-lethal weapons are presented as more acceptable alternatives to guns. But these weapons augment rather than replace the more lethal weapons. Euphemistic labels are used to create the impression that these weapons represent soft and gentle forms of control. CS is never referred to by the authorities as vomit gas, in spite of its capacity to cause violent retching.” NGO Physicians for Human Rights believes that “ ‘tear gas’ is a misnomer for a group of poisonous gases which, far from being innocuous, have serious acute and longer-term adverse effects on the health of significant numbers of those exposed.””—What is tear gas? —Facing Tear Gas (via gowns)