Along with the dreaded switch to Daylight Wastings Time, the first of the month brings new issues of Open Letters Monthly and N1BR. Between the two of them, you can find, among other things, reviews of Where the Wild Things Are, J.M. Coetzee‘s Age of Iron, Bob Seger, and the Complete Bloggings of Caleb Crain.
“The last two years have given long overdue visibility to trans / non-binary realities, pushing us to re-imagine what centering the margins truly means. Being intentional, though, is more than a special issue of a literary journal for the ‘marginalized;’ it’s about creating a space for folk to curate, create, and declare their own bodies: of work, of resistance, of survival.” Editor Jayy Dodd introduces the new issue of The Offing, devoted to trans and non-binary artists. Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s piece on literary activism.
“I’m drawn to books that deal in fragments and digressions, authors that patch together something larger from these pieces while also letting them stand on their own.” Sam Stephenson writes about “reimagining what a biography can look like” and reading Tennessee Williams: Notebooks, edited by Margaret Bradham Thornton, in a piece for The Paris Review. He also mentions Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, which Tyler Gillespie recently reviewed for The Millions.
Our own Emily Mandel may have been onto something with her “catastrophic” summer reading list; dystopia seems to be all the rage this summer. The WSJ sets Rick Moody’s The Four Fingers of Death in “a dystopian United States that is halfway between Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano and Woody Allen’s Sleeper.” The SF Chron calls Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story “literature’s first dystopian epistolary romantic satire.” And later this year, as we noted this month, will be Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez, which focuses on a cultish community in the dystopian aftermath of a flu pandemic.
“Most writers … don’t ask questions of a journalist,” writes How to Read a Novelist author John Freeman. But what of those that do? Over the course of a fifteen year career, Freeman has found that “what the novelists asked of me told me [a great deal] about them,” and that a big problem with the standard format for author interviews, after all, is that “the conventions of the interview deprive us of one thing a novelist does quite a bit, which is ask questions.” (Bonus: Freeman will be in conversation with Jennifer Egan Thursday night at McNally Jackson.)