Sunday, November 18, 2012

New Stories Called "Deeply Seductive"

My new illustrated, limited-edition story collection, Date of Disappearance, receives the kindness of The Oregonian today. 
The stories are superb, well-balanced and deeply seductive, revealing the lives and experiences of people -- very normal, everyday, you-and-I-type people -- at that bittersweet moment where everything routine, expected, and normal cracks and leaves them in a spot thoroughly unimaginable just moments before. … [Cunningham’s] sentences often leap off the page in their beauty and insight, demanding a lingering rereading, and his characters have a depth and life that is hard to achieve in any genre of writing. … If you're a lover of the fine art of short fiction, Date of Disappearance should be added to your list. If you're not, perhaps this wonderful book would be a good place to start.

See the review here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Language That Induces a Change of Heart"

On the Smithsonian website, Ron Rosenbaum offers a lovely little profile of ex-Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham and his new(ish) editorial undertaking, Lapham’s Quarterly, that themed compendium of great writing from across the centuries.

Something of an e-iconoclast myself, I particularly like the way Rosenbaum has framed Lapham’s mission with the Quarterly: as a deliberate counter-assault on our Web-addled, attention-deficit age by means of curated — and timeless — content.
The cavalry charge that Lewis Lapham is now leading could be said to be one against headlessness—against the historically illiterate, heedless hordesmen of the digital revolution ignorant of our intellectual heritage; against the “Internet intellectuals” and hucksters of the purportedly utopian digital future who are decapitating our culture, trading in the ideas of some 3,000 years of civilization for...BuzzFeed.
Here’s a quote from the 77-year-old editorial visionary himself, for anyone needing reminding of what a gift this man continues to be to the intellectual life of America (emphasis mine): 
“I think that the value [of LQ] is in the force of the imagination and the power of expression. I mean ... the hope of social or political change stems from language that induces a change of heart. That’s the power of words and that’s a different power than the power of the Internet. And I’m trying to turn people on to those powers and it’s in language.”

Rosenbuam writes:
Lapham has no love for what web culture is doing. He laments Google for inadvertent censorship in the way search engine optimization indiscrim­inately buries what is of value beneath millions of search results of crap. Even if that was not the purpose, it’s been the result, he avers.      
 “And that aspect of the Internet I think is going to get worse.”

He can sound a bit extreme when he says Facebook embodies “many of the properties of the Holy Inquisition. I mean its data-mining capacities. Or what Torquemada had in mind. I mean, the NKVD and the Gestapo were content aggregators.
Extreme? Read Rosenbaum’s piece entire, then take a look at Lapham’s Quarterly. Judge for yourself.