I don’t think teenagers reading literature need to see a world they know; I think they need to see a world they know isn’t bullshit.

What is the difference between a fat woman and a voluminous one? Botero was being defensive, but he also accidentally gave us a new way to consider the body. Fat is an artifact of internal bodily processes, the result of a breakdown of chemicals that eventually push us outward. Volume is about taking up space in the world, displacing what is around us. Or, alternately, a level of loudness. Maybe the new body has nowhere to go but up.

The Trash Heap Has Spoken

Terrific essay on “the power and danger of women who take up space” by Carmen Maria Machado.  

My doctors made it clear that there were two kinds of illness: those they could identify, and those that didn’t exist. My symptoms were simply shadow puppets cast by a mind that couldn’t control itself. I was confused. They were certain.

They were wrong.

Performance of a Lifetime 

I highly recommend this remarkable essay by Kate Horowitz on invisible, chronic illnesses and gender issues in medicine. 

[…] we have offered up our
mortally wounded, un-
comprehending remembrance.
We look down or away
and notice the impassive
grass under our bloody weight.

Memorial Day by Reginald Gibbons, from Last Lake (University of Chicago Press: 2016)

Our fiction casually adjusted to accommodate the blast, even if we thought we were writing far from the blast, we were, indeed, not writing about the blast at all. The world had already been absurd, to those paying attention to the unending reported and even more unreported brutalities around the globe; perhaps the world is just more likely to look different as a multiracial child from a former European colony, where the scars of colonialism never fully heal, even if, like me, you grew up after independence. But now, perhaps, a new generation of writers would be unable to avoid the instability, the absurdity, of the post-9/11 world.

Maybe this is Murakami’s chthonic insight: that the dark underground, where the bad things wait […] is not that deep down.  The underground can’t stay buried. Reality A and B are indeed different—but like parallel train tracks in his fiction, they would inevitably crash. Perhaps Reality A—9/11—was inevitable; had it not happened then, it would have happened soon enough.

Authors are actors, books are theaters

Wallace Stevens