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I had always reached for books to save me, had devoured them, had fled into their pages to illuminate the world around me, to illuminate me: but I hadn’t looked for myself in those pages, it had never entered my mind to think that would be possible. So when I read Close to the Knives I felt a shock of recognition both grounding and immediate. I knew that David Wojnarowicz had died soon after the publication of the book; in the early-‘90s, it seemed like whenever I discovered a new queer male artist he was either dying or on the verge. It felt like everyone was dying -- of AIDS or drug addiction or suicide, and this wasn’t shocking because I had only known death, internally or externally it felt like the same thing. Except that the internal death you could refuse, and that's what Close to the Knives meant to me.
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
"I don't know if "work" or "career" is a valid and only source of validation. I think more like Hannah Arendt here, namely that self-worth is something that has to do with the public sphere, it is more having a voice and a role in the public sphere, being an active member of a community, defending values and standing for those values publicly. Rosa Luxemburg, more than Sheryl Sandberg. I think that through feminism we should be careful not to reinforce those aspects of culture that are the uninteresting outcomes of a capitalist, highly competitive, reductive notion of self, all oriented toward a linear and narcissistic notion of self-accomplishment. Feminism has other strands and other aims than making women into the productive forces of capitalism: namely to make the public sphere a more ardent sphere of preoccupation for women."
“In the history of art,” writes Julie Johnson, in a chapter called ‘Erasure,’ “the gap between fame during life and what remains after the artist is dead is often attributed to the quality of the work. Memory for an artist is presumed to reside in the works of art and things they leave behind. But memory is much more fragile than that; works of art and their authors require active interventions by curators and academics. They are vulnerable even without the systematic destructions and erasures that happened in Vienna…”
Lawrence Durrell's centenary passed in February 2012. Reaction seemed muted: the celebration was limited to a series of academic conferences in London and some notes in the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph (and, I've just noticed, a Newsweek and Daily Beast article hailing him as a prophet of globalization). More than five decades after Justine was published to delirious reviews, Durrell's place in literary memory is uncertain. He is still widely considered to be an important writer, but very few people are willing to take a position on how important, and why.
"The Collective became a debate with myself about the issue, and the debate manifested itself through my characters, who ask: Do Asian American artists always have to have race as their primary subject? Do they always have to make their characters Asian American? Would it be race betrayal if they don't? Doesn't limiting yourself to the issue of race ghettoize yourself, or even perpetuate stereotypes? My answers: No. No. No. Maybe. And I'll also say that this will likely be the last time I address race so explicitly in a book. I think I'm done with it."
"We are always in some novel, wondering about the outcome. In 2000 with the election contretemps in Florida we were in a novel, we were in the middle of history, and the Supreme Court was a very bad author, creating a deus ex machina over something that, in hindsight, maybe we should have taken authorship of and rejected. It was a terrible day for democracy, and for the novel that is the United States of America, I think, when the election was decided by a Supreme Court verdict: that was a terrible plot. I still have the Newsweek cover story that came a year or so later, September 2011, on the summary of journalists' investigations of Florida. Of course, that Newsweek story came out the week of 9/11. Aristotle would have noted the peripeteia in that -- the reversal of expectations, the irony."
"The blurring of the private and the public seemed to reflect what was happening in social media -- how we can now all be on the same page, that there are no lines between "them" and "us." It's a space we all share. For example, I can tweet George Stephanopolous and Molly Ringwald; I can find a link to Lee Martin's MFA blog, and I can see the photograph of Kyra Sedgwick's new tub that Kevin Bacon bought her as a birthday gift. If we're all so clearly putting ourselves on the page (the screen) for each other, wouldn't it follow that writers would make such meta-moves in their work?"
Ryan van Meter