I don’t want any record of my days.
For a long time, I’ve wanted to keep a diary. I tried throughout adolescence but always gave it up. I dreamt of being very frank, like Joe Orton, whose diaries I admired very much; I found them in the library when I was about 14. I read them half out of literary interest and half as pornography, thrilled to follow Joe around the many corners of the city in which I had only walked but he had managed to have illicit sex. I thought: If you’re going to write a diary, it should be like this, it should be utterly free, honest. But I found I couldn’t write about sexual desires (too shy, too dishonest), nor could I describe any sexual activity—I wasn’t getting any—and so the diary devolved into a banal account of fake crushes and imagined romance and I was soon disgusted with it and put it aside. A bit later I tried again, this time concentrating only on school, like a Judy Blume character, detailing playground incidents and friendship drama, but I was never able to block from my mind a possible audience, and this ruined it for me: It felt like homework. I was always trying to frame things to my advantage in case so-and-so at school picked it up and showed it to everybody. The dishonesty of diary writing—this voice you put on for supposedly no one but yourself—I found that idea so depressing. I feel that life has too much artifice in it anyway without making a pretty pattern of your own most intimate thoughts. Or maybe it’s the other way ’round: Some people are able to write frankly, simply, of how they feel, whereas I can’t stop myself turning it into a pretty pattern.
To read the full article, click here.
After the latest Boko Haram massacre, I called my brother in Nigeria — and finally started to understand what I’ve been missing.
In a year in which we saw time and time again how little black lives matter in the U.S. it was a sad reminder that to most Americans, African lives mean even less.
I couldn’t understand it. Why is it like this? Why can’t people see? Racism, yes, but not just racism; people I know to be dedicated to social justice had nothing to say about what had happened in Borno State.
But in the height of my self-righteous outrage I realized something: I hadn’t talked to my brother.
It’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, which means the most stylish people in the world have descended upon Manhattan to see where the world top designers will be pushing fashion in 2015. But what defines New York City fashion in the 21st century? Whether you’re looking at the designer duds sold in Bergdorf Goodman, hipster street style or the bold fashion of the outer boroughs, you can see one woman’s stamp on almost everything a modern New York woman wears. That woman is Patricia Field.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico—When Matt Block walks into Big Al & Redneck Steve’s Beer Bucket on 10th Street on a brilliant sunny Sunday afternoon with a tan and the tropics-approved outfit of a light polo, simple shorts, and low tops with no socks, he looks like the thousands of people who flock to the vacation paradise 45 minutes south of Cancun.
Except unlike the tourists hemorrhaging cash on watered-down margaritas and overpriced beach chairs, the New Yorker is here to work. On this Sunday, he makes $7,100 in a few hours sitting in front of his computer, playing online poker. He arrived a month ago and has no plans to leave anytime soon. Life is too good, cheap, and easy, with an endless string of women “actively looking to make bad decisions,” as he puts it.
The 28-year-old—“ancient for poker,” he says—is a new addition to the informal brotherhood of about 150 mostly young men, the majority American, who have flocked to this beach resort on the so-called Riviera Maya to make their fortunes at online poker, spending their spare time partying, hitting on women, and living large. Members of the loosely connected group span more than a dozen years in age and varying degrees of card-playing talent. Some bonds are tighter than others. People come and go, but together they make up what you could call the Poker Frat of Playa del Carmen.
The life sounds like a dream. And for the most part it is.
The conditions in which we read today are not those of fifty or even thirty years ago, and the big question is how contemporary fiction will adapt to these changes, because in the end adapt it will. No art form exists independently of the conditions in which it is enjoyed.
What I’m talking about is the state of constant distraction we live in and how that affects the very special energies required for tackling a substantial work of fiction.