j.m.-ledgard

Literature really allows for the big themes, and we should take them on. I find it a bit disappointing that so much contemporary novel writing doesn’t. Think about what’s happened in the past twenty years, since the end of the Cold War—the technological revolution, the doubling of the world population, the rise of China, the extinction of thousands of species. I’m not saying that literature should be a polemic. But if literary fiction is reduced to only middle-class families dealing only with middle-class angst, then it’s really finished as a force for grappling with the world… To me, the world is inherently mysterious, even like a fairy tale, sometimes a happy fairy tale, sometimes a very dark one. But that wonderment is what I’m after.
—  J.M. Ledgard
Literature really allows for the big themes, and we should take them on. I find it a bit disappointing that so much contemporary novel writing doesn’t. Think about what’s happened in the past twenty years, since the end of the Cold War—the technological revolution, the doubling of the world population, the rise of China, the extinction of thousands of species. I’m not saying that literature should be a polemic. But if literary fiction is reduced to only middle-class families dealing only with middle-class angst, then it’s really finished as a force for grappling with the world.
—  J.M. Ledgard

It is understandable you would want to come back as yourself into a wonderland with the sharpness of color of the Queen of Hearts in a newly opened pack of cards. But coming back as yourself is resurrection. It is uncommon. It may be even greater than the scope of mathematics. 

We cannot talk with definition about our souls, but it is certain we will decompose. Some dust of our bodies may end up in a horse, wasp, cockerel, frog, flower, or leaf, but for every one of these sensational assemblies there are a quintillion microorganisms. It is far likelier that the greater part of us will become protists than a skyscraping dormouse. What is likely is that, sooner or later, carried in the wind and in rivers, or your graveyard engulfed in the sea, a portion of each of us will be given new life in the cracks, vents, or pools of molten sulphur on which the tonguefish skate. 

You will be in Hades, the staying place of the spirits of the dead. You will be drowned in oblivion, the River Lethe, swallowing water to erase all memory. It will not be the nourishing womb you began your life in. It will be a submergence. You will take your place in the boiling-hot fissures, among the teeming hordes of nameless microorganisms that mimic no forms, because they are the foundation of all forms. In your reanimation you will be aware only that you are a fragment of what once was, and are no longer dead. Sometimes this will be an electric feeling, sometimes a sensation of the acid you eat, or the furnace under you. You will burgle and rape other cells in the dark for a seeming eternity, but nothing will come of it. Hades is evolved to the highest state of simplicity. It is stable. Where you are a tottering tower, so young in evolutionary terms, and addicted to consciousness. 

Submergence, J.M. Ledgard

I became a foreign correspondent in order to become a novelist— that was clear from the first. I traveled with two notebooks. In The Economist one I scribbled about GDP and generals, in the literary one it was moths and the latticed light you find inside a camel herder’s hut. I was lucky to get the habit of writing in the world rather than removed from the world. A lot of my writing was done in waiting rooms of ministries and broken down airports – it still is.
—  J.M. Ledgard
6

Time for Friday reads! here’s what we’re working on:

Correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates: Finishing Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings, by Stephen O’Connor (it’s a big book – more than 600 pages.) The more I read, the more struck I am by the notion that, really, nobody can definitively say what their relationship was.  Did they love each other?  Quite probably.  Did she hate the fact that, despite his love for her (which seems an open secret), she remained enslaved? Probably.  Was he a hypocrite for keeping his lover and children enslaved while espousing freedom and equality in his writings?  Of course. He said so himself.  O’Connor uses myriad devices—flashbacks, Jefferson’s own words, notes from his contemporaries – to make both these people three-dimensional and fully, frustratingly human.

Editor Tom Cole: Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume.

Tumblrer/Producer Nicole: Yesterday I picked up Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves. On the very first page, the moon blows up! Thumbs up so far.

Tumblrer/Editor Petra: I’m reading Faith Erin Hicks’ new graphic novel The Nameless City.

Producer Jessica Reedy: I’m about halfway through the deliciously wicked young adult novel Kill The Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky. A group of teenage girls kidnap a member of their favorite boy band. It’s like if Heathers met One Direction.

Producer Malika Gumpangkum: I’ve just started Submergence by J.M. Ledgard.