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"The tears continued streaming down as I thought about the tremendous promise that Louie once showed; I felt crushed that we both couldn’t have been scientists. After several minutes, I gathered myself and started the car. Johnny Cash was on the radio singing, ‘There will be peace in the valley for me, dear Lord I pray … ’ And I slowly drove away."

Read more from Carl Hart, recipient of the 2014 PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

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"If it please the court, I ask that it be stricken from the record that I ever mocked/denigrated John Updike for his devotion to Doris Day, which I have come to share, though perhaps not with the same lambent intensity."

Read more from PEN American winner James Wolcott’s Critical Mass.

"I like writing in bars, during meals, in bed, occasionally in the car while driving—and could probably move some pages along while on the edge of a conversation at a party. I try to work writing into the margins of other situations, rather than placing it front-and-center."

This week Sean Wilsey answers the PEN Ten with Lauren Cerand.

"An old man stared at a cloud / I looked at him smiling / in the light of that cloud-so peaceful, so far removed from desire and pain- / I was jealous. / Old people agree with the clouds. / And it’s taking us a long time to get old."

Read more from PEN Awards’ winner Diaries of Exile.

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FOUND
  FIVE FINGERS
  OF A RIGHT HAND
  Inquire at: Dessingstrasse, 7, apt. 54
  Telephone: 3.45



[W]hen the pianist Heinrich Dorn saw his runaway fingers lying in a cardboard box lined with cotton wool, he began to cry; the fingers, still pinched together, lay motionless in a hideous lump. Their cracked and ulcerated skin was caked with mud. Their once-fine tips, now repulsively flattened, bore the yellow excrescences of calluses; the nails were broken and lacerated; dried blood was turning black under the bends of the joints. 

– Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s “The Runaway Fingers,” from AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A CORPSE, translated by Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov, winners of the 2014 PEN Translation Prize.

http://www.pen.org/translation/autobiography-corpse
FOUND
FIVE FINGERS
OF A RIGHT HAND
Inquire at: Dessingstrasse, 7, apt. 54
Telephone: 3.45
[W]hen the pianist Heinrich Dorn saw his runaway fingers lying in a cardboard box lined with cotton wool, he began to cry; the fingers, still pinched together, lay motionless in a hideous lump. Their cracked and ulcerated skin was caked with mud. Their once-fine tips, now repulsively flattened, bore the yellow excrescences of calluses; the nails were broken and lacerated; dried blood was turning black under the bends of the joints. – Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s “The Runaway Fingers,” from AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A CORPSE, translated by Joanne Turnbull & Nikolai Formozov, winners of the 2014 PEN Translation Prize. http://www.pen.org/translation/autobiography-corpse
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On Wednesday’s we read Krzhizhanovsky. 

This whole story would have remained hidden under the starched cuff and sleeve of a jacket, if not for the Weekly Review. The Weekly Review came up with a questionnaire (Your favorite writer? Your average weekly earnings? Your goal in life?) and sent it out to all subscribers. Among the thousands of completed forms (the Review had a huge circulation), the sorters found one, Form No. 11111, which, wander as it would from sorter to sorter, could not be sorted: On Form No. 11111, opposite “Average Earnings,” the respondent had written “0,” and opposite “Goal in Life,” in clear round letters, “To bite my elbow.”

More on Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading blog…

On Wednesday’s we read Krzhizhanovsky.

This whole story would have remained hidden under the starched cuff and sleeve of a jacket, if not for the Weekly Review. The Weekly Review came up with a questionnaire (Your favorite writer? Your average weekly earnings? Your goal in life?) and sent it out to all subscribers. Among the thousands of completed forms (the Review had a huge circulation), the sorters found one, Form No. 11111, which, wander as it would from sorter to sorter, could not be sorted: On Form No. 11111, opposite “Average Earnings,” the respondent had written “0,” and opposite “Goal in Life,” in clear round letters, “To bite my elbow.”

More on Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading blog