Video of Haitian American novelist Edwidge Danticat talking about the earthquake in Haiti at Democracy Now.
John Steinbeck’s son criticizes the state of Texas for invoking Of Mice and Men‘s Lennie Small, in ruling that certain mentally retarded individuals can be sentenced to the death penalty. The great-great-great granddaughter of Herman Melville wonders where her great-great-great-grandfather’s editor was when he wrote Moby Dick.
Last week, I told you about Rebecca Solnit’s essay “Eighty Books No Woman Should Read,” which is a tongue-in-cheek riff on Esquire’s “80 Books Every Man Must Read” list. Now, here’s a fascinating rebuttal from Electric Literature in which Sigal Samuel ponders what might be gained by reading sexist old white guys.
Reviews are still in the literary news, and in the midst of all the nicey niceness and plentiful hot air, Alix Ohlin got a real smack down in the Times for her new novel, Inside, and her new collection of short stories Signs and Wonders. Which prompted J. Robert Lennon to consider: How does one even write a good “bad” review?
As a child, Xiaolu Guo hunted birds and toads to survive. Now, as a writer in Britain, she’s written a memoir about her difficult childhood, which you can read more about in this review in The New Statesman. Sample quote: “Perhaps it is no coincidence that the reason that Guo gives for deciding to write in English is to be free of Chinese government censorship, a process that she describes as the wearing down of a rock’s sharp edges to a smooth pebble.”
The Millions Editor Max is interviewed at the National Book Critics Circle today. Among the topics discussed, “the motivation for launching The Millions seven years ago” and what we look for in book reviews.
I have a short story in the latest issue of Avery, a young literary magazine I’ve written about before. Avery 4 also includes fiction by Hannah Tinti, Kevin Canty, Rumaan Alam, Samar Fitzgerald, Sophie Rosenblum, Scott Garson, Callie Collins, James Iredell, Jessica Breheny, Sean Walsh, Anna Villegas, and Michael Bourdaghs. It’s wonderful to have found my story such a sleek and beautiful home, filled with so much good company.Here’s the opening of my tale, called “A Love to Calm the Body”: My grandmother fell in love with her doctor. She liked the way he scrubbed his hands. He also washed his forearms, held them wet in front of his body before taking them to the towel. My grandmother had a weekly appointment; she’d been diagnosed with Hysteria – an excess of emotion, a deep feminine sadness. This was in 1899, when my grandmother was twenty-three, two years married. My mother was only an idea then, hovering at the edges. I wasn’t anything at all.Want to read more? You can order the issue online here.
“Thoreau did kill, cook and eat a woodchuck that was eating his beans. But he decided that was a lousy way to treat a woodchuck and he never did it again.” In celebration of his bicentennial, NPR sets straight five myths about Henry David Thoreau‘s diet, including the pernicious canard that he stole pies from neighbor’s windowsills. See also “My Summer with Henry,” on reading Thoreau’s Cape Cod on Cape Cod.