Word on the street is that Oprah’s new book club pick will be Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan. So, last chance to get one before the Oprah logo goes on the front. We first wrote about Akpan when he appeared in the 2005 New Yorker debut fiction issue. Say You’re One of Them was also a “Most Anticipated” book in 2008.
Last week, Emily Gould recommended Nell Zink in her Year of Reading piece, extolling Zink’s novel The Wallcreepers as a “funny, profane, [and] deeply weird book.” At The Paris Review Daily, Matthew Jakubowski interviews the author, who talks about living in Germany, reading too much Kafka and writing for Jonathan Franzen.
Writers are told that they should outline their work. Elizabeth Gilbert has outdone us all by writing a 70-page outline for The Signature of All Things. “I have no German Romantic idea about work. There’s no fugue state, you know? I could no more write at 3 a.m. than I could with a quill pen. I keep farmer’s hours and I have that sort of plotting and plodding way,” she told The Daily Beast.
Anya Ulinich, author of Petropolis, talks to World Literature Today: “What else can a person do when she gets home after a ten-hour work day – with a toothache that she can’t afford to fix . . . – but fall on the couch and watch whatever is in front of her face?” . . . Lydia Davis, whose Collected Stories is just out, talks to Sarah Manguso for The Believer: “At the origin of the work there has to be strong feeling, if it’s going to be any good. Of course, that strong feeling can be a delight in language.” . . . The Book Bench unearths a 1978 John Updike interview with a Croation periodical, which finds the Rabbit Angstrom author halfway through his tetralogy. . . . Edwin Frank of NYRB Classics talks to Omnivoracious, and selects his favorite books in the series (via). . . . And James Ellroy submits to interrogation at The Paris Review: “I was always thinking about how I would become a great novelist.”
Not highbrow, not lowbrow, not even middlebrow – is American culture now dominated by the upper middle brow?