“I think of all the recent research that shows us that our notion of conscious decision-making is a post hoc rationalization of something that’s happening in the non-verbal portion of our brain, which is way more powerful than our conscious portion, or how limited our ability to be congnitive is.”
“What’s beautiful about translation is that it forces us to contend with that truth: that we are selecting one of many options. Or, that we can potentially see many options at once. Because, as you say, we’re moving to the side, we’re looking at it through an imperfect lens, or a lens that makes visible the imperfection of looking.”
There are images from Kyle Minor’s stories that will stick with me to the grave: a man laying hands on a dying man’s tumor, a preacher baking biscuits at a boy’s funeral. These images sear because they get at the gruesome failures of life. The preacher bakes biscuits in a gimmicky bid for consolation. There seems no true feeling in his action, and so it falls far short of the gravity of the moment. The man with the tumor thinks the narrator of “Seven Stories about Sebastian of Koulev-Ville” is the healer come to pray over him. The narrator has […]
“Trying to see the world as others might seems like an act of respect to me—so long as it isn’t done cynically or sloppily.” Skip Horack talks to Tom Bennitt about work, religion, and history in his fiction.
Author of the debut novel, We Sinners, Hanna Pylväinen talks about fiction’s relationship to truth, moving past doubt in her work, and how writing a sincere moment of religious experience is even trickier than writing a sex scene.
“We create things that we hope will, someday, become objects of value. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, many writers–Foer, DeLillo, and Roth, to name just a few–all came out with 9/11 novels. I was initially bothered by this. I wanted to say, ‘Fuck you; I was there.’ This passed for a couple reasons. First was the realization that we’re all survivors of one type or another. Second, these texts can never really become authoritative positions on the experiences of a group of people, no matter how well written they are or how well credentialed their creators might be. There’s no uniform experience of being a 9/11 survivor, no uniform experience of being a woman. These are things that can’t be owned by anyone.”
Jacob Paul’s debut, Sarah/Sara, is not a joyful read, but it is a deeply moving one. The novel unfolds as the journal of Sarah Frankel, an American-born Jew who, shortly after finishing college, moved to Israel, where she took the Hebrew version of her name (“Sara,” pronounced Sah-rah) and became far more ritually observant than she was raised to be. After her visiting parents are killed in a suicide bombing in the café below her Jerusalem apartment, Sara embarks on a six-week, solo kayaking trip through the Arctic. Throughout the beautiful yet dangerous trek, Sarah’s thoughts turn not only to her past—memories—but also to an imagined future, one that challenges her faith.
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