It’s unlikely that your somewhat erratic editors at Writers No One Reads will be able to provide a massive 2014 Book Preview in the near future, but in the meantime, possibly more to allay our own concerns in that regard than yours, we will, as should be expected, erratically share what we’re reading.
Originally published in 1969, Stanley Crawford’s Travel Notes has been out of print for decades until being rescued from oblivion by Calamari Press. Travel Notes is a strange novel capable of making any reader feel the surreality of being a tourist. It’s a work of baroque imagination, full of invention and absurdity: there is a linguist whose invented word has the capacity to destroy the world; a conspiracy of mail carriers in an abandoned city; a seaside resort where the beaches are lined with mausoleums; an oxymoronic line of hermit janitors… In the end, the book proves to be more than the sum of its parts, making it a welcome addition to Crawford’s sadly unread body of work. (SS)
Leslie Jamison, “The Empathy Exams” (via The Believer)
Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us—a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain—it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I’m deep in my own. To say ‘going through the motions’—this isn’t reduction so much as acknowledgment of the effort—the labor, the motions, the dance—of getting inside another person’s state of heart or mind.
This confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always arise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones.
“Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception. How many colors are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of ‘Green’? How many rainbows can light create for the untutored eye? How aware of variations in heat waves can that eye be? Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects and shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable gradations of color. Imagine a world before the ‘beginning was the word.”
I’ve been living here, on a slab of wind, for over ten years, writing, writing, writing. That the words finally carry. That you hear them, is great recompense.Gustaf Sobin, Letter to Eliot Weinberger (via heteroglossia)
Albrecht Dürer, St. John Devouring the Book, 1497-98 (via deathandmysticism)
There’s an awful silence in between things.Paula Fox, in an interview with Lynne Tillman
Andy Warhol—I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this—would clear all his desktop objects into a carton, seal it, mark the date, and start over. How often I don’t know. Seasonally, let’s say. And I don’t know whether this was intended as an art project, or as a nostalgia project, or whether he was simply defeating clutter in a very reasonable way. But the thrill, maybe, is in aging ordinary objects into interesting things.Jason Schwartz interviewed at BOMB
Kacper Kowalski (via)
Bill Brandt, The Pilgrim’s Way, Kent, 1950 (via idlesuperstar)
Jean de Pomereu, Fissure 2 (2008) (via metaincognita)
A desk, a chair, pens, pencils, a writing machine of one kind or another, and time, lots of time, more time than most people can stand to imagine, in some room or another: these are the writer’s tools. Add place, less easy to define, the where you came from, the where you were exiled from, the where you would rather be, and what is just out the window.Stanley Crawford, “A Writer’s Rooms”
Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, Ice Lens (2005)
"Willow and the Dogwood" by Talk West