“The TV shows us which priests and congressmen and starlets can’t stop doing the wrong things. We make a point not to root against them, to remember that everyone needs to make a living. The ways these people make theirs comes with extraordinary demands.
The TV shows us the world of the young, too, and they’re the sorriest young people yet – empty of righteous hatred, casual in their loves, seeking a thousand shallow alliances. The young are easy to make fun of, but this fact does not comfort us in the least. They still have youth, regardless of what they do with it, and so we envy them.”—From Further Joy by John Brandon, reviewed for The Rumpus by Drew Arnold
“This summer, three years into my life as a man, it finally fully feels like my body is flowering into the truth of it. It’s scruffier, sweatier, more embodied. It’s melted gum on the subway platform, hair curling against pomade’s mushy muscle, sloshy late-night Pimm’s Cups on my dusky rooftop, the sweat of held hands and damp beds and watery iced coffee cups blurred into photos I scroll through to try to pinpoint exactly when everything changed.”—Self-Made Man # 31: Tenderness, Too by Thomas Page McBee
“Open my ears & let your frenzy enter
relentlessly, like a blind machine,
like a sea captain who doesn’t trust the stars,
carried off by an unsteady boat.
My life, this shirt I want to take off—
what can’t be said is the dark meat,
seeking your mouth in another’s mouth,
the whispered cries of animals without sleep.”—"Wolf Cento" (the eleventh) in Wolf Centos by Simone Muench, reviewed by Julie Marie Wade
“Janet Wygal (The Individuals, Splendora, I Ride the Bus): I had a side band called I Ride the Bus with my sister Tricia and we opened for The Replacements! That was really quite memorable because they were just so wild, and so drunk! But really good! It was one of their early shows in the area and I think it was just sort of their recklessness that was so appealing. And obviously the songs were really great, of course.”—An Ode to Maxwell’s by Jesse Sposato. A now-closed Hoboken gem!
“Once, when locked in my closet for a few days, I ate my chest hair to stay alive. The doctor later told me it had no nutritional value but I didn’t know that, and the placebo effect kept me going. Now that the doctor told me the truth, I’ll have to find something else to eat if I ever get locked in there again.”—Ted Wilson reviews his chest hair
The biggest (native) moth in North America lives for two weeks. I’ve seen one spend one of its mornings against a brick wall, preternaturally alive, folding mass into the same amount of mass, collating. Its wings, as you might expect, have eyes. It has no digestive…
One woman—I wish I knew her name—began tagging her tweets #YesAllWomen in response to the “not all men” argument, to make clear that, no, not all men are homicidal maniacs, but yes, all women live in fear of those that are. Within days, millions of women everywhere in the world were sharing their experiences of fear, intimidation, and harassment. At one point there were as many as 50,000 tweets a minute, with women sharing their experiences of everyday misogyny. The backlash against #YesAllWomen was, and remains, harsh, with users being trolled, harassed, insulted, and threatened.
These threats are intended to frighten us and to silence us, but it isn’t working. I find tremendous hope in that. #YesAllWomen mobilized women in a way I’ve never seen before, and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it yet.
“But song-poems are also uniquely fascinating. Their particular badness is of the kind that record collectors, for example, love to attend to: the mixture of dread earnestness and camp, the mixture of mastery and inability, the collisions of historical eras, the inexplicability of certain cultural tendencies.”—Swinging Modern Sounds #56: On Song-Sharking by Rick Moody.
“Anthony Breznican’s debut novel, Brutal Youth, opens with a troubled teenaged boy, nicknamed “Clink,” violently hurtling statues of saints off the roof of St. Michael’s, the crumbling Catholic school that sets the stage for all the drama within the book’s four hundred plus pages. Clink is far from a central character—we only see him once more, for a fleeting moment—but throughout Brutal Youth he is often referred to, and always as “The Boy on the Roof.” Consider the prologue a preview of heavy-handedness—no pun intended—to come.”—Elizabeth Word Gutting reviews Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican.
“I mean, girl, we’ve gotta look at people’s intentions toward us. Anyone who would try to shut you down or shut me down is a person who doesn’t want the best for you. If I got on the phone today and I said, “Oh, girl, listen to your dad, don’t write your truth,” I’m not a person who has your best intentions in mind. And you should be like, “Thanks Samantha, good to talk to you,” and write me off as a person who doesn’t care about you—because I don’t if I tell you to shut yourself down.”—Conversations With Writers Braver Than Me #17: Samantha Irby.
“The “Lady Neurotic,” as I affectionately dub her, is having a major moment in pop culture, and many people have a hard time conceptualizing any twenty-something female character that isn’t on the brink of falling apart. We see this character throughout Lena Dunham’s Girls, where a slew of narcissistic young women guzzle too much alcohol and make a living telling self-deprecating jokes about their lady parts and lady feelings. We see her on The New Girl, where the simultaneously loved and reviled Zooey Deschanel cries her way into a new apartment. We see her in the film Bridesmaids, where Kristen Wiig’s character Annie has lackluster sex with a boyfriend who treats her like dirt.”—The Rumpus Review of Obvious Child by Arielle Bernstein.
“I’ve never been one of those authors who fully creates a character in some form distinct from the writing of the story. I don’t do character sketches or “learn” (which actually means invent) things like what they wore to Halloween at the age of eight, or how recently they’ve been to the dentist – unless that comes up naturally. I can understand why people do that, but I tend to start with a few big-picture facts, or not even those, but with a situation or, as in the case of this book, an opening sentence, and then make it all up as I go along.”—The Sunday Rumpus Interview: Robin Black.
“All of the jobs you used to have as a writer that you didn’t want but had anyway—something to put bread and beer on the table while you were writing your book—even those jobs are drying up.”—The Rumpus Interview With Richard Russo.
“Black Cloud by Juliet Escoria is a book about drugs that is not a Drug Book. Although each first-person story cycles through a litany of mind-altering substances—coke, meth, weed, ketamine, cutting, and antidepressants, to name a few—the deeper stories take place in between lines, hits, and swigs.”—Hannah Thurman reviews Black Cloud by Juliet Escoria.
My name is Fobazi, and I live in the great state of New Jersey, and I just finished graduated from Rutgers University. For the past two years, I have pursued a Masters in Library Science, and I recently got a full-time job.
But the job doesn’t start until after Labor Day. So my immediate need is for funds to move out of my house.
Right now I live with my mother. She makes home a very unsafe place for me to live. She is an extremely conservative Christian and a pastor and constantly derides my “choice” in sexuality. On top of that, she constantly takes all of my savings.
At this moment, I have less than $50 to my name because my mom found my hidden savings. My job doesn’t start until after labor day and I wasn’t able to work this summer due to immobility.
“Not queer like gay. Queer like, escaping definition. Queer like some sort of fluidity and limitlessness at once. Queer like a freedom too strange to be conquered. Queer like the fearlessness to imagine what love can look like…and pursue it.”—Brandon Wint (via ethiopienne)
“More generally though, I want to keep writing about friendship as a central topic. The older I get, the clearer it becomes how vital and potent friendships are in all our lives, how connected with our health it is to have many people we love, to have myriad ways of being and interacting – even though as with all relationships, friendships can also sour, sometimes with extraordinarily damaging results.”—The Sunday Rumpus Interview: Robin Black, author of Life Drawing
“And as an artist, if my parents were still around, I don’t know that I would be this free. I don’t know that I would be who I am. I don’t know that I would be writing, and I certainly don’t know that I’d be writing about the stuff that I’m writing about. I’d like to think that my personality has always been sort of upbeat and outgoing, but if there were someone who was like, “Yo, don’t write about your vagina on the Internet,” I don’t know if I’d be like, “You know what, dude? I think I’m gonna do it anyway.” I can’t say for sure.”—Conversations With Writers Braver Than Me #17: Samantha Irby by Sari Botton
“We wear our hats and ride the knives.
They cannot fix you. They try and try.
Tunnel! Into the dark open we go.
Days you are sick, we get dressed slow.”—"Station" in House on Fire by Maria Hummel, reviewed by Laura Haynes
“We were then young girls and our want was written on our skins. Between our legs and along our necks and wrists, our skin craved friction and more friction. We kissed calluses into the backs of our hands, murmuring comfort at the enflamed flesh, but still, our skin would not be satisfied. In the dark, we rubbed pillows against stinging nipples and curled knee to chin, hoping to keep the skin from flying from our bodies. Stay with me, we said. In the mornings, we woke to puddles of wet sugar in our beds and wrung moisture from our underwear.”—The Eager by Jen Palmares Meadows
“They slowed down Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony so it stretched over 24 hours. The effect was of a continual climbing, with no resolution – just an ever-building terror, the slowest imaginable scream. In a state of heightened time, everything reduces to fear, a sublime fear. If life has any meaning, it comes at the end.”—The Self Unstable by Elisa Gabbert, reviewed by Brian Pera
“I think I came to and still come to writing as a sounding board—and I mean that in both senses. As a way not just to record experience, but to be or to have one, to investigate one’s habitus. What’s that Oppen line: “There are things we live among and to see them is to know ourselves.” I think of it as a way of seeing more deeply.”—The Rumpus Poetry Book Club Chat With Emily Abendroth
“They slowed down Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony so it stretched over 24 hours,” Gabbert writes: “The effect was of a continual climbing, with no resolution – just an ever-building terror, the slowest imaginable scream. In a state of heightened time, everything reduces to fear, a sublime fear. If life has any meaning, it comes at the end.”—Brian Pera reviews The Self Unstable by Elisa Gabbert
“The ideal reader for Amy Rowland’s The Transcriptionist is stranded in public, waiting. I don’t mean to suggest that this novel is light, or lacks rigor, but simply that distraction—people milling about, talking, laughing, shouting—accents this book like music.”—Benjamin Rybeck reviews The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland