R.I.P., Jonathan Baumbach. Here are some quotes from the writer.
“The books of mine I like best are the ones I hardly recognize as products of my labor after they appear. That is, they come from some uncharted place inside that is smarter and more daring and more interesting than I am.”
“Now I come with some trepidation to the argument implicit in this piece. What’s fun about reading fiction that refuses to yield itself without a struggle? Ah, fun! Still, I think it reasonable to say that the more active we are as readers, the greater the potential satisfaction in the reading experience. It’s a bit like love, but isn’t everything that matters?
“Reading itself, reading anything, is an ambitious act in an age dominated by visual media. Even the simplest books require the translation of language into thought and image. Still what’s the point of reading work that is like television when television is tastier, more easily digested, and less time-consuming. If one reads books at all, shouldn’t one go for an experience one can’t get from TV or movies or anywhere else. Taking the trouble to read, perhaps we ought to go for something that throws our whole way of seeing into question.”
“Originality tends to generate difficulty in that it breaks faith with expectation, undermines the prevailing verities of last season’s fashion. Originality, by definition, takes us by surprise. Surprise is one of the touchstones of art. Literary art is always somewhat difficult during our first unescorted encounter with it. It often arrives without fanfare and without self-defining context.”
John Madera is the author of Nervosities (Anti-Oedipus Press, 2024). His other fiction is published in Conjunctions, Salt Hill, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His nonfiction is published in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, New York State Council on the Arts awardee John Madera lives in New York City, Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.