Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat. He must learn them again.
—William Faulkner, “Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech”
I got my copy of George Saunder’s In Persuasion Nation in the mail a couple days ago, but I’ve found it really hard to get into, because I’ve already read most of the stories elsewhere. (“CommComm“, “Adams“, “Bohemians”, “The Red Bow,” “Christmas,” “93990,”…if you’ve got the Complete New Yorker you’re halfway there.) It’s like an album of previously released singles. The new website has a bunch of goodies on it, including a chapbook of non-fiction and an MP3 of Tony Danza (!) reading “The Barber’s Unhappiness.”
I’m also listening to Kevin Brockmeier’s THE BRIEF HISTORY OF THE DEAD. He got the idea for the novel from the epigraph of one of my favorite books in high school: Jame Loewen’s LIES MY TEACHER TOLD ME. Here’s a list of songs about death that Brockmeier likes, and the original story from the New Yorker.
I am still very excited for the new Walkmen album.