Sometime Millions contributor Elif Batuman sees her debut effort The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them hit shelves today. Also new today is Not Art by Peter Esterhazy who wowed Garth at PEN/World Voices in 2008.
“The presentation of himself as a damaged outsider, barely holding on, ups the dramatic ante, though it does seem at odds with the accomplished, balanced, commanding prose he appears able to muster with every sentence — not to mention his prestigious awards and teaching stints.” On Charles D’Ambrosio’s Loitering.
I’d heard that the New Yorker excerpt was the opening of Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Freedom, but it turns out it is preceded in the novel by this: “The news about Walter Berglund wasn’t picked up locally–he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now–but the urban gentry of Ramsey Hill were not so loyal to their city as not to read the New York Times. According to a long and very unflattering story in the Times, Walter had made quite a mess of his professional life out there in Washington. His old neighbors had some difficulty reconciling the quotes about him in the Times (‘arrogant,’ ‘high-handed,’ ‘ethically compromised’) with the generous, smiling, red-faced 3M employee they remembered pedaling his commuter bicycle up Summit Avenue in February snow; it seemed strange that Walter, who was greener than Greenpeace and whose own roots were rural, should be in trouble now for conniving with the coal industry and mistreating country people. Then again, there had always been something not quite right about the Berglunds.”
Nick Stockton wonders why writers are such bad proofreaders of their own work. He argues that it is hard to catch typos because our brains arrive at meaning faster by taking shortcuts. Also enjoy this skit of Strunk & White in conversation with the grammar police.