paper trail

Marlon James on writing about his mother; Morgan Parker on the playfulness of poetry

Morgan Parker. Photo: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

In an essay at LitHub, Marlon James explores why he has written extensively about his father, but never about his mother. “She was the one always there, and yet the one harder to write about. It’s easy to spin a clever fiction about my father. Not so easy to string words about my mom, the person who applied bandages and bought schoolbooks, but also the adult often around during long stretches of holiday boredom. Even on a purely linguistic level, ‘the man who wasn’t there’ sounds sexier than ‘the woman who was always present,’” he explains. “But there goes my daddy again, hijacking a story about my mother.”

Jami Attenberg talks to Entertainment Weekly about death, family, and her upcoming novel, All This Could Be Yours.

“I think the space of the poem really lends itself to exploring all the levels of Black culture. That’s really what I’m aiming to to do, is explore the simultaneity of Blackness, and a multiplicity of Blackness, the way that the past and present interact with each other and inform each other, and the way they’re both situated at the front of our brains as Black people,” Morgan Parker tells The Rumpus about her new poetry collection, Magical Negro. “There’s more playfulness in poems than in any other genre, and that feels really central to the way I’m trying to describe Blackness as this slippery and simultaneously dark and brilliant thing.”

Marie Myung-Ok Lee reflects on the proliferation of autistic characters in literature and questions the use of “the disorder as a metaphor or plot device.”

At Longreads, Jacqueline Alnes compiles a reading list on the intersection of athletic competition and mental health. “Many athletes struggle with mental health issues, but the culture of sport — especially at the top tiers of competition — often emphasizes physical performance over holistic wellbeing,” she writes. “The culture is changing in ways, yes, but the rhetoric of athlete’s ‘overcoming’ anything is still deeply ingrained in the language of coaches, and the way athletes speak to themselves.”