Did You Hear? Dean Town

This is the kind of music that makes your face do that funk frown–you know, when the groove is so filthy and tight, you just shake your head and frown through it. Check out “Wait for the Moment” (or really any of their other tracks) for another example of how seriously these guys take a good groove.

Brook Reeder

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What to Read in March

The Idiot by Elif Batuman: “With superlative emotional and intellectual sensitivity, mordant wit, and pitch-perfect style, Batuman dramatizes the uncertainty of life on the cusp of adulthood.”

The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi by Eugene Ostashevsky: A “poem-novel about the relationship between a pirate and a parrot who, after capturing a certain quantity of prizes, are shipwrecked on a deserted island, where they proceed to discuss whether they would have been able to communicate with people indigenous to the island, had there been any.” It “draws on sources as various as early modern texts about pirates and animal intelligence, old-school hip-hop, and game theory to pursue the themes of emigration, incomprehension, untranslatability, and the otherness of others.”

Follow Me Into the Dark by Felicia Sullivan: It “traces the unraveling of a family marred by perverse intergenerational abuse. A complex, dark expression of the deprived heart and the desperate lengths children will go to in order to create family.”

Also at Fiction Advocate this month: We’ll interview MariNaomi, review Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patty Yumi Cottrell, and explore a book from 1908 called Autobiography of a Super-Tramp.

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The Literary Tourist Interviews Kerri A. Pierce

The Literary Tourist is a column of conversations between literary translators about newly released books in translation. This month Andrea Gregovich interviews translator Kerri A. Pierce. Kerri translates from many languages. Her translation of Justine, an unsettling Danish novel by Iben Mondrup, is a recent release from Open Letter Books.

Andrea Gregovich: I would call the style and flow of this novel impressionistic. The narrator Justine is an artist, and the narrative unfolds more like art than fiction, each chapter a pastiche of smaller sections that kind of throw paint at the story, one might say. Scenes, dialogue, imagery, and Justine’s internal voices all hit the page in this book, which is only somewhat chronological. What was it like to translate a book with such a patchwork narrative? Did you ever lose your bearings?

Kerri A. Pierce: Translating a book with, as you put it, a patchwork narrative certainly presents its challenges. I don’t know if any translation happens in a linear way, from beginning to end, but this one certainly didn’t! Some sections I returned to again and again, as I was progressing through the book, making significant changes to the language according to how I had translated later sections. I also had the luxury of being in touch with the author, who was wonderful to work with and very prompt with answering questions. Continue reading

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Be More Imprecise

Stunning Sentences

In nearly every creative writing workshop I’ve taught, someone asks for more—more details, more specificity, more singularity. Rarely does anyone recommend vagueness or imprecision.

In story, you need both. Specificity brings your characters to life, moving them from cliché to a complex, idiosyncratic individual. Specific details also flesh out the narrative dream, helping the reader experience your fictive world.

But lack of specificity, giving only a partial glimpse, can create suspense and an opening for the reader to engage more fully in the story. By being imprecise, you spark a reader’s imagination, and the result is a richer, more engaging experience. James Baldwin uses lack of specificity to great effect in his stunning short story “Sonny’s Blues.” Continue reading

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Did You Hear? Up Above My Head

If you’ve never of Sister Rosetta, you’re certainly not alone, but you’ve been missing out on some some incredible early gospel/r&b/rock&roll, as well as a crucial puzzle piece in the history of American Music.

Here’s another great song from Sister Rosetta: “This Train”

Brook Reeder

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The Boomstick Film Club: Safety Last!

Watch it with us: Filmstruck or iTunes

In addition to my usual indie discoveries, I’m going to start tackling some classics here. Not that they need me to bring attention to them, but when a film endures this long, it’s usually because there’s a lot to talk about. I tried to go see a Harold Lloyd movie at the Film Forum a few years ago but was stymied because, I shit you not, the theater caught on fire about twenty minutes in and had to be evacuated. So Safety Last! was my maiden voyage with Mr. Lloyd, and what a treat it turned out to be. If you’re unfamiliar with his work, this is a perfect place to start. Continue reading

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