Paul West, the novelist and critic (and former Bookforum “First Novels” columnist), has died. “As a stylist,” the New York Times notes in its obituary, he “pulled out most if not all the stops” in books whose protagonists might be astronauts or aliens, Jack the Ripper or von Stauffenberg (who gave his name to the plot against Hitler). “The impulse here,” West wrote in his 1985 vindication of purple prose, “is to make everything larger than life, almost to overrespond, maybe because, habituated to life written down, in both senses, we become inured and have to be awakened with something almost intolerably vivid. When the deep purple blooms, you are looking at a dimension, not a posy.” West believed in giving the world back its intensity and “showing—showing off—the expansive power of the mind itself”: In his view, a writer who’s “afraid of mind, which English-speaking writers tend to be, unlike their Continental counterparts, is a lion afraid of meat.”
Vice media continues its bid to take over the world (this time via a number of television networks).
Larry Kramer has expressed his impatience with the reviews of his latest book in the New York Times, which he says is “famous among gay writers for ignoring us, or trashing us. Straight critics just don’t get us. Just like straight historians don’t get us.”
If you’ve ever wondered why American readers are so deprived (relatively speaking) of literature in translation, you may be curious about the tribulations of Chad W. Post of Open Letter Press—this sort of publishing, it seems, is a tough business.
Finally, the conversation we’ve been waiting for between one writer and another, where “another” is the infamous Guy in Your MFA.