Discover more from Largehearted Ledger
A playlist of the week's best new albums, interviews with Lexi Kent-Monning & Marina Abramovic, new music from Hurray for the Riff Raff, an excerpt from James W. Jennings's new novel, and more
This past week I finished several books, but two stood out.
For a literary seminar, “Writing the Body,” we read Ursula K. Le Guin’s novel The Left Hand of Darkness. Having only read a handful of Le Guin’s essays, I looked forward to finally readung her fiction. The book surprised me with its timelessness, its depiction of a planet without gender could easily have been published this year. Impressive for a book published in 1969.
My 8th grade ELA classes just started George Orwell’s 1984. So far, impressions from students are mixed, it either “slaps” or “gets eaten.” Reading it again reinforces for me the genius of Orwell and the depth of his allusions.
I also read a couple of novels that will surely end up on my list of favorites of 2024 (see below).
What books have impressed you lately?
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A Playlist of the Week’s Best New Albums (9 albums, 95 songs, 6 hours and 32 minutes)
This week’s best new music includes albums from PinkPantheress, Cat Power, Mary Lattimore, Hit Bargain, Beirut, Daneshevskaya, Vyva Melinkolya, Zooey Celeste, and Lewsburg.
The New York Times Magazine interview with Marina Abramovic
When I conceive work, I always want it to deal with three elements of human fears: suffering, pain and the priority of our existence. I use my body to express these issues, and the public sees that if I have the courage to liberate myself from physical pain…
Lexi Kent-Monning on her brilliant debut novel, The Burden of Joy
“Therapy is my favorite writing tool,” Kent-Monning says. “I can't believe I didn't ever see that about myself. It was through edits a few drafts in and therapy too, where I was starting to recognize that. Once I recognized it, it became so obvious to me that it should be central in the book.”
Stephanie Land interviewed about her memoir, Class
I feel like when it’s a woman writing a memoir, the judgment is on the person and not so much on the writing or how well it’s written, even. It’s always me who’s scrutinized. It’s not my ability to write a story.
Lindsay Hunter interviewed about her new novel Hot Springs Drive
I want to stress that motherhood is the best thing in my life. I just love them so much. I feel like sometimes I talk about the bad things too much, but they’re the best thing in my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. But there’s like all these little failures all the time, every day, constantly.
Asymptote’s interview with author Ariel Dorfman
The point is that readers should never know if the event being narrated (for instance, my standing outside the US Embassy in Santiago not wanting to enter because I was uncomfortable meeting a CIA agent) is true or false. And this delicate uncertainty feeds into the fact that the past itself is difficult to disinter completely, that it depends on the contingency and perspective of who is remembering it.
An interview with musician Alice Glass
…there’s a new song that I’ve been trying out. It’s called, “Nights Talking” and it’s been really fun to play. I’ve kind of been feeling more… happy. I really want to be a happy person. I don’t know if I’ll ever make happy music generally. I guess that’s a really broad term.
What Was Literary Fiction?
As an English professor, I’m often asked, “What do you like to read?” Sometimes I answer, “Literary fiction.” By that phrase, I mean fiction that privileges art over entertainment. I did not know until recently that literary fiction—the phrase, not what it stands for—grew up with me. We’re about the same age. And while I hope I’m only midway through my life, literary fiction might be dead. More precisely, what might have died is literary fiction as a meaningful category in publishing and bookselling.