Here are the first lines of the new Gary Shteyngart novel, Super Sad True Love Story, forthcoming in July: “Today I’ve made a major decision: I am never going to die. Others will die around me. They will be nullified. Nothing of their personality will remain. The light switch will be turned off.”
“Any day’s news supplies plots so fantastic that most make-believe story lines pale in comparison.” Author John Altman in the LA Times about the difficulty of writing fiction during Trump’s presidency. “My current novel-in-progress concerns North Korea,” writes Altman, “and each day’s headlines endanger its premise. But too much second-guessing hobbles a writer. One can only take a deep breath, remind oneself that war with North Korea would jeopardize much more than a humble spy thriller, and forge ahead, hoping for the best.”
From Nebuchadnezzar to Hippocrates to the Victorian asylum: The Paris Review takes a look at mental illness and its treatments across the centuries.
Over at Hyperallergic, art, activism, and literature collide in When We Fight, We Win!: Twenty-First-Century Social Movements and the Activists That Are Transforming Our World by Greg Jobin-Leeds and AgitArte. Pair with our own Bill Morris’s review of The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975.
“In addition to fearing, as a young person, that I lacked sophistication, I also feared that I lacked courage. It was hard for me to say something even mildly tough about someone else or their work; hard for me, generally, to be critical. Mary McCarthy had no such trouble.” Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings, writes about her literary idol for the LA Times.
Recommended reading: elderly sisters contend with the youngest dying, in a quietly wry new story by Allegra Goodman at the New Yorker. “She pretended to sleep, and then she really did drop off. When she woke, her sisters were hovering over her. Some of us have overstayed our welcome, Jeanne thought. And then, with sudden shock, No: I’m the one. That would be me.”