1. This essay by Benjamin Kunkel in the New York Times, about the rise of confessional memoirs, leads to this post at So Many Books, and this response at Tales From the Reading Room investigating what it is about contemporary life that makes us so pain-obsessed, suggesting that
Trauma is resolutely not about knowing things; it’s about having been through an event that was radically alien to knowledge and understanding. But turning it into a narrative gives it the look of having been mastered—there’s a powerful transformation at work in the victory of words over dangerous, untamed experience that we can all share and marvel at. Equally the experience of trauma is one of the few in our society that is given a special form of authority. No one can deny or argue with a trauma victim’s experiences, which is a pretty unique state of affairs in the modern world.
And see the comments, this followup, and this post at Eve’s Alexandria for more general discussion of creating personae through nonfiction. It’s a fascinating topic in and of itself, but something about it also chimes with the thinking I’ve been doing recently about that most ill-defined of literary categories, slipstream; certainly the Kessel/Kelly definition of slipstream can be understood as being about attempting to convert an incompletely understood experience, that of daily living in the twenty-first century, into a narrative. But it’s notable that more than a few of stories they selected for their anthology end with uncertainty or dissolution—quite the opposite of the sort of mastery of story being discussed above.
2. Waggish has an interesting post on left-brained literature, which (based on the list) you could also largely call “that stuff sf readers like that isn’t genre sf” (Murakami, Eco, Calvino, Borges etc). The determination of overlap between this category and slipstream is left as an exercise for the reader.
3. Abigail Nussbaum on Superman Returns, which I might be able to respond to if I’d had a chance to see the film yet.
5. Clarkesworld books has started putting fiction online, starting with a few stories from Fantasy Magazine.
6. Martin Lewis on Polystom by Adam Roberts. To the list of useful references that are frustratingly not online, I would add Matt Moore’s review of Polystom from Foundation 91. One day, maybe …
7. Farah Mendlesohn’s SF reading habits questionnaire is closing down at the end of July; if you haven’t filled it in, now’s the time.