The refrain we hear over and over, in the United States at least, is that people today are apathetic about politics. Yet it turns out that this is far from the case. Voters in the U.S. and in democracies around the world are more engaged in politics than they've ever been. The catch is that they're disillusioned with the democratic process itself. Only 33% of Europeans have faith in the EU. The U.S. Congress has a 69% negative rating. So what gives? In Against Elections, set to be published on April 17th, David Van Reybrouck diagnoses the symptoms of our ailing democracies and comes up with a radical solution: drawing lots, rather than voting, to determine our politicians, just as the ancient Athenians did. Here as an exclusive excerpt on the Seven Stories Blog is the book's introduction, from former Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, and the first chapter of Van Reybrouck's book.
The ebook edition of Kate Braverman's masterful first novel, Lithium for Medea, is now free through April 5, 6PM EST. Braverman, whose latest book, A Good Day for Seppuku, was touted in the New Yorker last month, is a literary virtuoso, and it's with Lithium for Medea that her novselistic virtuosity first showed through. Lithium is a tale of addiction: to drugs, physical love, and dysfunctional family chains. It is also a tale of mothers and daughters, their mutual rebellion and unconscious mimicry. But in the end, this great novel is so much more than the words that can be used to describe it. An unsung masterpiece, Lithium is a lyrical fireball that sears the reader from its first line. It is a book that, like all great books, created its own tradition. And the time is now to follow in its burning wake.
Happy birthday to Nelson Algren, one of Seven Stories's founding authors and patron saints. Algren was the first ever National Book Award winner, the one-time lover of Simone de Beauvoir, and an inspiration to artists as diverse as Kurt Vonnegut and Donald Barthelme, Studs Turkel and Lou Reed. But Algren was much more than his accolades and could ever show, as the following excerpt from his Noncomformity: Writing on Writing will attest. Beginning with an epigraph from F. Scott Fitzgerald in his 'crack-up' years, Algren's essay is, in some ways, the opposite of inspiring. It is a look into the depths of the writer's motivation (hint: vindictiveness), and a hymn to all those who "live underground." Perhaps enjoy is not the world—but we hope you'll find yourself moved and provoked by this lyrical and brilliant piece of writing on writing.
Happy Birthday, Kate Bornstein! A celebrated pioneer and advocate for the LGBTQ community, Kate Bornstein is the author of My Gender Workbook: How to Become a Real Man, a Real Woman, the Real You, or Something Else Entirely; Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and The Rest of Us; and A Queer and Pleasant Danger: A Memoir. We've excerpted the introduction and first chapter of the inspiring Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws below. We hope you enjoy!
Comedian, activist, and author Barry Crimmins died last month at the age of 64. One of the legends of the Boston comedy scene, as well as a childhood abuse survivor and a vigilante anti-pedophilia watchdog who helped expose the prevalance of child pornography on early AOL chatrooms, Crimmins was as influential as he was inimitable. In 2004, he published his personal and political memoir Never Shake Hands with a War Criminal. Below are two representatively eclectic chapters from a very funny and yet very serious book: the first is about starting Boston's first true comedy club, the Ding Ho, while living homeless on the outskirts of town, and the second is about snubbing the "satanic" architect of the United States government's atrocities in Vietnam.