Archive

Elizabeth Gumport

5 March 2012

Jealousy was a given, and forgivable. But the pettiness Dunham’s success inspired was of a kind not usually seen outside children’s parties. Like infants driven to tears by the sight of someone else getting all the gifts, human adults became incapable of hiding their envy. More…

14 February 2012

Female experience constituted art up until the point it ceased to be identical with male experience. (Flaubert to Colet: “You are a poet shackled to a woman!”) And so to live one’s life as a woman was at odds with living one’s life as if it were a work of art—not just because certain elements particular to female existence tended not to make their way into most novels but because most novels, if they were good, refused to acknowledge that the world maintained such crucial distinctions. There should always and only be the human—and we all wanted to be human. More…

Maybe it was just their generation. Because it seems like younger women don’t have that same problem. My mother just hates this book! She says: “Lightning Rods! Ah! I hate that book!” Then when it got a publisher, she said, “I’m going to try to read it again.” My loyal mother! And so then she got up to “tight, wet twat” and she just couldn’t go on. More…

“I felt that Samurai was a very generous book in various ways, there were all these quotations. And with Lightning Rods, I wasn’t consciously trying to be ungenerous, but I had this sense from the beginning that it would be a very self-contained book, that it would not give anything away. It would be like The Producers. It would be funny.” More…

29 September 2011

The group here was much larger than the one gathered around Moore, but it didn’t feel like a crowd—people were calm, attentive, at ease. A lot of them were sitting down. In order to be heard, speakers relied on “human microphones”: they’d say a few words, then pause while the group repeated their statement. After an explanation of the assembly process for the sake of any newcomers came reports from working groups. More…

Before the “general audience” ascended to power, aristocratic benefactors ruled the art world. For centuries, authors subsisted outside the open market. Their readers were their patrons; the audience, in theory, an audience of one, plus the hangers-on. Patronage relationships spilled into erotic ones. Eleanor of Aquitaine was surely a lover of the arts, but a Troubadour could serve multiple purposes. More…

20 April 2011

In L. J. Davis’s excellent A Meaningful Life, published a year after Desperate Characters, Lowell Lake, married managing editor of “a second-rate plumbing-trade weekly,” impulsively purchases a brownstone in Fort Greene. Once home to an industrial baron, it is now a half-decayed rooming house. The novel is dense with details of Lowell’s labor: by its final third, neither he nor the narrative leaves the house. More…

5 January 2011

This February in Baltimore, a mysterious rash appeared on my arms and chest. I showed it to one of my graduate school classmates, who said: “bedbugs.” I spent the following weeks searching through hundreds of images of bugs and bites and stained sheets (a crushed bedbug leaves behind a bloody mark that resembles felt-tip pen) and shed exoskeletons (they look sort of like peanut skins). More…

23 August 2010

Good movies, or at least pleasurably bad movies, make the worthless ones even worse. They remind us that watching Kick-Ass was not inevitable, that there are other, better ways to spend a Tuesday afternoon, an afternoon that will not come again. Maybe you can get your money back but not your time, and so whatever worth Kick-Ass has is only as a memento mori. More…