“I was just reading the scroll version of [On the Road] now, and I see aimlessness, and it’s not a happy story. As a kid it seemed like a strong story, making it seem as if there’s a lot of things out there that you could become a part of, but now it doesn’t at all…It’s misleading, that book.”
—Will Oldham, from Will Oldham on Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Joshua Henkin, author of “The World Without You,” guest edits the next issue of Recommend Reading:
“It is just one of the many notable things about ‘Glissando’ that the writer, Katie Bellas, is in her mid-twenties. There’s none of that jitteriness and showiness so common among young writers. It’s as if Bellas has all the time in the world to peel back the layers of her characters, and this she does, with remarkable precision. ‘Glissando’ is a story about a middle-aged financial titan on the precipice of professional and personal failure. It’s a story about a congenitally cautious man who behaves incredibly incautiously. It’s a story about a man whose life is falling apart, and Bellas dangles him from a noose, and us along with him.”
Check back tomorrow morning to read the story and the rest of Joshua Henkin’s introduction.
“Astral Weeks,” insofar as it can be pinned down, is a record about people stunned by life, completely overwhelmed, stalled in their skins, their ages and selves, paralyzed by the enormity of what in one moment of vision they can comprehend. It is a precious and terrible gift, born of a terrible truth, because what they see is both infinitely beautiful and terminally horrifying: the unlimited human ability to create or destroy, according to whim. It’s no Eastern mystic or psychedelic vision of the emerald beyond, nor is it some Baudelairean perception of the beauty of sleaze and grotesquerie. Maybe what it boils down to is one moment’s knowledge of the miracle of life, with its inevitable concomitant, a vertiginous glimpse of the capacity to be hurt, and the capacity to inflict that hurt.