“What do people mean when they call a novel “Dickensian”? A large cast of vividly drawn characters, some of them grotesques with comically descriptive names and odd tics of speech and behavior; a plucky orphan who overcomes a childhood blighted by humiliating poverty or simple lower-class misery; numerous and ingeniously interconnected subplots; panoramic shifts of location; a narrative that makes the reader finish each chapter eager to begin the next.”—After Great Expectations by Francine Prose | The New York Review of Books
What started as an afternoon project has now grown into something much bigger—a global community of readers, sharing what they love, across both nonfiction and fiction. Along the way we’ve built Longreads into…
“Bookselling made a writer out of me. Before I got a job at a bookstore, I would sometimes poke around the edges of being a creative writer—I wrote little essays for zines my friends published, and I liked to come up with elaborate fake histories for bands I was associated with in college. I liked books and I liked to read. But being a bookseller moved me from a casual to a professional interest in books, so it meant I needed to read a lot more, and a lot of contemporary work. It gave me a sense of the landscape, and where I might fit into it. (And that I actually might fit into it.) It plugged me into the community of writers and readers. And it gave me access to writers who helped me evolve my writing. I learned that creative writing is a discipline that takes time and attention. (And lots of rewriting.) I learned that a voice and an idea are good things, but they aren’y necessarily stories. I spent time finding out the paths other writers took to get where they were, and got advice on how to find my own way.”—We interviewed Matthew Simmons, whose collection Happy Rock is one of the year’s best.
“This sense of surreal cosmic horror is always on my mind. It’s my favorite thing to think about. I think the title is a perfect fusion of my influences and Shannon’s influences. (The Rat House was an old shack on Shannon’s family property that was a big part of her childhood and the image is highly nostalgic for her and representative of childhood and growing up.) I tend to write more fantasy fairy tale lyrics and Shannon tends to write more nostalgic/personal/family lyrics.”—Band Booking: Shannon and the Clams on Cosmic Horror, Serial Killers, and Collage
“My relationship to NASCAR is a mite complicated, as is any Southern expat’s, but it essentially fits the following parameters: 1) I don’t typically much care for its fans, unless they’re related to me — Mort’s an exception. 2) I was raised on a steady diet of Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, but when Earnhardt died I was a long way from Calvary Baptist in Charlotte, N.C., and I was mostly amused by the news of the regional, may have even been national, TV coverage his service received (delivered via a fitful, sobbing telephone call from my redneck brother). 3) Chili goes well with it. 4) Beer too.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn | An Excerpt from Todd Dills’s “Triumph of the Ape”
“It’s probably impossible to explain to young people who weren’t around in the 1980s how central, crucial, and all-encompassing a role MRR played on the punk scene at that time. Without exaggerating too much, I think it would be safe to say that if your band, zine or whatever wasn’t in MRR, it almost didn’t exist. MRR was essentially the clearinghouse for punk rock from round the world, and for the most part, it did a very good job at that. It definitely played a major role in helping Lookout and Gilman attain the positions of prominence that they did.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Stories from Spy Rock: An Interview With Larry Livermore
“Oh and I liked Rachel Kushner’s Flamethrowers, but it does not even begin to be talked about as a “great American novel.” It is a “good” American novel, though I much preferred Francesca Segal’s The Innocents (which is almost great) and Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins which is not quite as almost-great as The Innocents, but well-worth everyone’s time. For the most recent “great” American novels, I’m sorry but I’m sticking with the Jonathans: both Freedom and The Corrections by Franzen and Fortress of Solitude by Lethem.”—Here is the paragraph (via Jason Diamond) that necessitated the coining of the term “Jonathansplaining.” Nice try, ladies, but leave the real Great American Novel-writing to the Jonathans. (via judyxberman)
“At the same time, the rate of its creation intensifies to the same degree its message dilutes. To accommodate this digression, people expect less because they derive less from the work. It’s reached such a point that nothing is satisfying. It’s just a sea of things to sift through. Music itself contains no inherent value; it’s a hollow statement filled in by listeners whose tastes have been decidedly undermined. But this is how we like things — neatly packaged to remind us that what we already have is not enough.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn | “Discontent is a Great Hobby”: Charles Bronson’s Mark McCoy on Art, Hardcore, and Insularity
“My concerns about form come from worry about why stories exist. People don’t tell stories to each other the way most writers write stories. People generally tell (written) stories in very oblique ways: in lab reports and legal briefs, contracts and small print, op-eds, emails, and memos. This makes stories that most people recognize as stories seem precious; they read like they ought to be under glass, in a museum (they sort of are, for most people—we read them on airplanes and beaches and otherwise steer clear of them). I like found forms because they still seem alive to me, and because I find them helpful in understanding a story’s reason for being. I don’t like to think of my fictions as ornament. I don’t think they’re frivolous, and so I don’t want to treat them that way.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Where Public Enemy, H.P. Lovecraft, and Sid Vicious Converge: A Between Books Interview With Gabriel Blackwell
“The main lesson my chapbook has taught me about current projects is: find the format that fits your story, not the other way around. Just because many of us dream of publishing a book that provides a nice advance, not every story is suitable for the for-profit enterprise of commercial publishing. It’s a business. Some of our prose is too experimental for that outlet. Some of us write black sheep forms like the essay. I think of it the way I think of individual pieces. Some things you write are essays, some are articles, and some of the ones you thought were articles turn out to be short blog posts. The same goes for book projects. Some stories are chapbooks. Some are longform lit mag pieces. Others are books to send to trade publishers, and others are eBooks. Not every long narrative is a potential trade paperback to give your agent. Sometimes it’s best to go indie–not to be forced to, but to want to. Independent presses and relatively obscure literary magazines foster some of our country’s best writing, hands down, and writers should try to match our story to the venue.”—Vol. 1 Brooklyn | Talking Travel Chapbooks and a Sense of Place With Courtney Maum, Aaron Gilbreath, and Bart Schaneman
“I always liked clarity and simplicity and balance. All rhythms can be seductive. I was attuned to the music of language as well as the music of music. Learning another language when I was seven probably made me hyperconscious of language; also the German language in the classroom was a wall of…
I’m excited to be able to share the news that Soho Press will publish my next two books, including my second novel Scrapper and a new collection of stories, over the next couple of years. Working with the Soho team on In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods has been a…
On Monday, May 6th at 7 PM, writers Lev Grossman, Nathaniel Adams, and Jen Vafidis will discuss Kingsley Amis’ newly reissued novels, the alternate history The Alteration and the ghost story The Green Man at the Half King. Co-sponsored with Vol. 1 Brooklyn.
“In addition to the playlist above, the company is producing a notebook that includes a 7″ vinyl with ten songs by Ellen Allien that are inspired by Italo Calvino. (Perhaps the goal is to expand the retail line to 55 cities.) This oversized notebook is available exclusively in London.”—