There’s a line I’ve heard quite a few times in my reading life, that books don’t do anything, that they don’t have any inherent power and can’t change anything. I think that that is such a dangerous lie.
Adelle Steals the Key To
I carried our wedding china out to the dock, threw every goblet into the ocean. He asked if I wanted a ticket to somewhere with ski slopes and full-length mink coats. I said yes and I’ll say it again. I miss you in the strangest ways. Do you remember when you bought me a new rug for the kitchen? A lover who wastes all his tokens on the house. I’ve got a red lipstick in my purse, and a few dollars for a cab. Every man wants a different song and dance. When the curtain closes, they all go home to the same freshly vacuumed rooms.
Feature image by Daniel Gordon. July 2, 2009, C-Print, 2009.
A sustained engagement with the world, a sense of how it was and how it ought to be, and what has been lost, is imperative to good writing—I just don’t know how you can be a serious writer without it.
But I don’t think this makes it easy to settle the question of how individual moral values can be affirmed in such a dialogical and ironic art form as the novel—a form where all convictions, no matter how impeccable, ought to be contested. That’s why I am wondering if it’s better to get the beliefs and convictions out in the seven-hundred-word Op-Ed, and then use the broader imaginative space of the novel to challenge them!
Where’s The Rage?, Kamila Shamsie in conversation with Pankaj Mishra - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
There are some writers who want to leave politics out of their novels. I don’t.
Mystery Is All There Is, Michael E. Halmshaw interviews Nadeem Aslam - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics
The apocalypse was quiet. It had a way about it, a certain charm. It could be called graceful. It was taking a long time.
People prepared for an apocalypse that they could take up arms against, bunker down with. People hoarded filtered water, canned corn, dry milk, batteries. They published books on how to get things done in the new post-world, a world that they always imagined as being much like our own, only missing one or two key things. They might imagine, for example, that survivors would reemerge onto a planet stripped of all vegetable and plant life. First, the animals would grow vicious and then starve. It would be important to hoard as many of these animals as possible, pack them in salt and hide them away to keep. You’d want to have a supply of emergency seed to grow in a secure location, maybe using sterilized soil that you had already hoarded. Then you’d want to gather a crew. One muscle man with a heart of gold, a scientist type, an engineer, a child, and somebody that you thought maybe you could love, if you survived long enough to love them.
I realized that dreams are boring, yes, but people are never boring.
If you use the dream as a vehicle to access people’s interior lives and obsessions, that’s interesting.
Yes, I wish there were more books about the female experience of sex and drugs and toughness, but, as a woman, if you write about something that’s explicitly calling into question how men and women interact and what’s expected of them, then that’s what your book is about and those are the terms on which it’s evaluated. It’s considered a man-hating book or a feminist book, and the author is treated as having written a manifesto or an idea book rather than literary fiction, whereas, if a man writes a book with those elements, it’s judged differently. That bothers me.
Most writers and other artists have waited tables at some point in their lives. But I think that if you survive it, you don’t want to think about it ever again. You want to just forget that dirty, shitty job you had to do to pay the rent. You don’t want to dive back into it and relive it. That’s my theory, anyway. But really, it’s a gold mine. It’s a perfect representation of the American caste system. You have people who are thought of as worthless—people who are undocumented, working for very little money, barely surviving in this country—and, just around the corner, millionaires eating off the plate those other guys just washed. There’s so much meat there.
Rosalynn was born in the house next door to Jimmy Carter, and he’s going to be ninety in October, so they’ve known each other almost a century. They know each other as well as any two people can. Everybody who ever worked with Carter knew she was his closest advisor, and that was true at Camp David. She’s the one who proposed it. There wouldn’t have been a summit at Camp David if Rosalynn hadn’t put it on the table. So she’s an unacknowledged piece of the peace process.
- Guernica: Are you inspired by the particularly lowdown stuff that goes on behind the scenes in a restaurant? The prose in this book surges with the bawdier stories.
- Merritt Tierce: It’s just an inverse relationship. You have to rise to it or else it’s just gross. Why read about it if it’s not beautiful in some way? Why write about it?