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.”
Recommended Reading: A piece of new fiction by Joanthan Safran Foer! Go check out "Maybe It Was the Distance" over at The New Yorker. Here's a review of Foer's Tree of Codes by Kevin Nguyen for The Millions which calls the format of the book, "a wonderful experiment in what a book can be, and also home to a mediocre novel."
The Tournament of Books team over at The Morning News have posted an in depth commentary on this year's withheld Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The Wall Street Journal asks a handful of book critics to name the books they thought should've won. And over at Moby Lives, Nick Davies has rounded up the statements made by the jury in response to the brouhaha. Lev Grossman, on the other hand, outlines why he's totally okay with the board's decision. And of course, we've got links and excerpts for all the finalists over here.
Up until 1999, Italian college students were required to write longform theses, which explains why Umberto Eco felt the need to write a guide to completing one. Eco being Eco, however, the guide went on to become a classic with many applications. At Page-Turner, Hua Hsu explains why the author’s writing manual is also a guide to life. You could also read Hillary Kelly on Eco’s Confessions of a Young Novelist.
How did Ian Fleming come up with James Bond? It’s easy to think, considering the political context of his era, that Fleming tailored his superspy to be the ideal hero of the Cold War. Yet there’s another, more prosaic explanation -- was the author simply having a midlife crisis?