“My mother, thank God, did not read this book. She held the galleys as proudly as if I had stitched the binding and painted the cover by hand, and she turned it over and ran her fingers over the blurbs, but she did not, mirabile dictu, open the pages. Maybe it’s because she is eighty-eight and slowing down as a reader—though she’s reading Seabiscuit—but more likely it’s because my last book hurt her a great deal.”
The Sunday Rumpus Interview: Dylan Landis, author of Rainey Royal
“These three years have included some of the true highlights of my 17 years as an editor—from being able to interview one of my lifelong literary heroes, Margaret Atwood, to introducing the work of many writers whose essays have now graced The Rumpus numerous times, such as Jennifer Pastiloff and Emily Rapp…and whose back to back pieces will, at the end of September, also mark the end of my time as a Rumpus editor. I have to tell you: it’s very hard to say goodbye.”
Goodbye for now…and new at the Sunday Rumpus helm… Gina Frangello  bids farewell!
“There are so few anti-heroines in literature—genuine anti-heroines, women whose wilfulness and individuality isn’t castigated or punished by the weight of narrative—that the idea of a woman like Sophie still feels revolutionary. In 1953 she doesn’t drive across America, aimlessly sleeping with whoever she comes across and drugging herself into oblivion. She takes her children, and travels alone to live in the shadow of a mountain, embracing its cold clarity and turning down the men who would love and protect her for the pursuit of an ideal.”
“I read on a slip of paper at dinner tonight that
You must empty yourself before God may enter
so I emptied myself and found
the bottom of a lake bed
caked with sticky mud
next to a sign that said
do not swim.”
— "After Another Execution" in There, There by George Higgins, reviewed by Heather Dobbins

“After Another Execution”

I read on a slip of paper at dinner tonight that You must empty yourself before God may enter so I emptied myself and found the bottom of a lake bed caked with sticky mud next to a sign that said do not swim. Under a covering of mulch the reflection of the stars disappeared into the blackness. I no longer want to reconcile myself to grief; I’ll sit with this thing tonight. Let it crack the bowls, break the windows out. I am weary of running away.

From There, There by George Higgins, reviewed at The Rumpus by Heather Dobbins.

In Bohumil Hrabal’s mesmerizing novel Too Loud a Solitude,the narrator, Hanta, has been compacting paper in Czechoslovakia for 35 years: through WWII, the Communist regime, book bans, movie bans, and unspoken blacklists. But he mourns the Great Books hidden inside each compacted bale, and his apartment is filled with the ones he can’t bear to compact. A hammock of books sags above his bed as he sleeps, and the only clear path is from the window to the bed to the bathroom, where the books often fall, “catching him with his pants down.” “Inquisitors burn books in vain,” he says. “If a book has anything to say, it burns with a quiet laugh, because any book worth its salt points up and out of itself.” Yet he saves the books. As a character in Mariusz Szczygieł’s Gottland points out,“in our country, anything that isn’t written down doesn’t really exist.” The books have to be written before they can point anywhere, or catch anyone with her pants down.

Sarah Trudgeon reviews Gottland by Mariusz Szczygieł.

NEXT LETTER IN THE MAIL: DAVID RODERICK

We’re getting ready to send out our next Letter in the Mail, and it’s from poet David Roderick! In this 10-page missive, Dave gets back in touch with his handwriting skills while enjoying a new bookstore in his town. He writes to us about his children, his surroundings, his secret morning exercise, and of course, poetry. And, he includes a poem from his new book, The Americans!

To make sure this letter finds its way to your mailbox, subscribe to Letters in the Mail now!

“Once upon a time this vision qualified as dystopic and its message cautionary. But as Thomas P. Keenan makes clear in Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy, we have entered a new Kuhnian paradigm that doesn’t necessarily include a future for the human species—at least as we know it. As Keenan puts it, the digitalization of humanity is now as unstoppable as climate change. Its impact can be reduced with certain uncomfortable adjustments, but the lag in any collective action will make it utterly reactionary and useless.”

"Girl with Chain"

Girl with part in her hair.

Girl with downward glance.
Girl with tiny Adam’s apple.

Girl with shoulders gently.

Girl with generalized flower pattern.
Girl with stomacher.

Girl with late 18th century.

Girl with exposed.
Girl with blue ground.

Girl with fog.

Girl with platemark.
Girl with fourteen doubles.

Girl with Hahnemüle.

Girl with mottling.
Girl with linen, lines.

From Her Book by Éireann Lorsung, reviewed at The Rumpus by Lisa Williams.

“Fire escapes. Not buildings exactly, but accessories. Iron rods fused into vessels of descent—and departure. Some were painted blue or yellow or green, but most were black. Black staircases. I could spend a whole hour sitting across the street from a six-floor walk-up studying the zig-zags that clung to a building filled with so many hidden lives. All that richness and drama sealed away in a fortress whose walls echoed with communication of elemental or exquisite language—and yet only the fire escape, a clinging extremity, inanimate and often rusting, spoke—in its hardened, exiled silence, with the most visible human honesty: We are capable of disaster. And we are scared.”