Sigrid Rausing introduces Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists 3.
‘My friends, what I mean is, this life is shallow like a plate. It goes no further.’
‘But I feel sure. Making some decisions today, no doubt about that! Not thinking about certain things today, no doubt about that!’
‘It was only November but holiday decorations were already starting to creep into the store displays.’
‘There’s just no way, unassisted, to commit suicide. But then there’s no way to be just a human, isolated, stripped or just stripped of contexts – because even a cell must have a floor, a ceiling, walls.’
‘Mr President, we can get you into a bunker with full communication equipment and you can give your address there, you just can’t do it in a goddamn plastic blimp at the start of World War III.’
‘Small praise was like a drug for party members, though we used real drugs too, hard ones, drugs that imbued one with the facility for ruthless violence and multiple orgasms.’
‘She sat sweating on the curb as her mother’s narrow face hovered over the parking lot like a hologram.’
‘She pokes her head through the skylights and sees the tide far out, the exposed seabed sinister as the surface of the moon. Tiny people pick their way across.’
‘I can’t remember the last time we said I love you before hanging up the phone. I can’t even remember the last time we said goodbye.’
‘All life is suffering. At the zendo where Jolie went Thursdays after sixth period, not much in the way of portable wisdom got dispensed, but this was, near as she could tell, the through line.’
‘Anyone could find courage when the World-Historical Spirit had selected you to enact your martyrdom on the Six O’Clock News. But in the shadows, in secret, unrecognized?’
‘I wonder if the only way to grasp what is terrifying and unimaginable for those of us who haven’t experienced it is to feel around the contours of inescapability, the boundary of its negative space.’
‘And each time I hit the tarmac I had this terrible feeling that the trip I’d just taken had never even happened, that I’d spent hundreds for a memory I could barely recall.’
‘Things he dreamt began to show up in the bushes, the plastic figurine from a parachute firework, the small dull rusted circular saw blade he thought of as a throwing star, and he pocketed those things.’
‘Long before terrorism became fashionable in the West and commonplace in the East, there was a bombing at the Sovereign Center in Delhi.’
‘Frank Laganà stood on the cliff suited in black, as straight as an exclamation point, poised to leap to his death once again.’
‘When it came to our son, her defensive instincts were well-developed and all the more necessary because it was hard from the outside to see why we were so protective.’
‘I stay mostly in my bedroom chambers, examining what has found its way into my pores or the mucoid crook of my eye.’
‘All that thought of home gave the girl a sickly feeling, the longing of something so out of reach, something she wasn’t even sure she could any longer truly remember.’
‘Dennis with his bespectacled eyes on his phone, performing the act of emotional multitasking. While I’ve been psychotic, he’s been phone banking.’
‘The uncooperative cadence of the phrase my myspace page perfectly encapsulates the awkwardness of the early oughts when our story begins.’
‘Our errors evolved into nature.’ Translated from the Burmese by ko ko thett.
Robert Moor remembers hitch-hiking across Newfoundland: ‘The way to pronounce Newfoundland, Bill and Sue instructed me, is to remember that it rhymes with understand.’
This week's Discoveries celebrates the brutal literary tradition of the hatchet job.
A novel about the life of celebrated dancer Isadora Duncan. ‘You can feel her in every room. The chandeliers shiver.’
Madeleine Thien on the occupation of Palestine.
‘When people would ask me what I was doing in Istanbul, I would explain that I’m a freelance writer and translator, and I move a lot. I move intuitively, I would say: places call to me.’
‘even astronauts describe / our air as thick enough to slice / and spread on toast for breakfast’
Deepti Kapoor on travel, authenticity and the peculiarity of being Indian in Uganda.
A discussion of the mind of Abraham Lincoln, the art of creating historical voices, verbal improv and writing the afterlife.
‘The power imbalance built into travel writing is just a heightened version of an imbalance that’s there in all writing.’
This week’s Discoveries features translation in all its many articulations.
Phillip Lewis on writing emotional autobiography. ‘A sincere observation followed by a sincere utterance is the most powerful and effective form of communication.’
‘An often-unacknowledged truth about families that deal with addiction is that the bonds of trauma can be as challenging to quit as the habit itself.’
Sarah Gerard on Leonora Carrington, shoegaze music and gaslighting.
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