James Hynes discusses the books he read when writing his latest novel, Next: “I wanted to see if I could write a day-in-the-life novel, a narrative that would be set in a single day, or part of one, and by working backwards and forwards through flashbacks, encompass the entire life of a single character.”
“Lillian haunted me when she was alive. And she has haunted me since her death in July 2015. And she has haunted me in spectacular ways since I published my memoir a month ago.” Sherman Alexie has cancelled the rest of a book tour to promote his new memoir about his relationship with his mother, reports The Guardian. See also: our interview with Ellen Forney, who illustrated Alexie’s National Book Award-winning YA novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
Every so often, a piece comes along that rends the fragile mind, employing a devil’s portion of mundane details to lay bare the inescapable futility of all human endeavor. This is the only rational way to describe this piece at The Awl, which takes the form of a conversation between Karl Ove Knausgaard and True Detective’s Nic Pizzolatto.
We’ve published essays before on the importance of good grammar, but it’s rare that something comes along that illustrates its value so clearly. A couple weeks ago, the Times published a blurb about This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a recent essay collection by Ann Patchett, that led to the author sending in what may be the best correction of all time. For more on Patchett’s work, you could read Kevin Charles Redmon on her book State of Wonder.
Dutch researchers are using moistened electrode caps to measure the brain waves, heart rate, galvanic skin response and facial expressions on an author and fifty of his readers. They hope to find patterns “that may help illuminate links between the way art is created and enjoyed, and possibly the nature of creativity itself.”
At the Book Bench, slides of Roland Barthes’ diaries from 1977 in their original, hand-written form: “His brilliance, which indelibly influenced literary theory, semiotics, social theory, and post-structuralism, can make him seem as distant as he is renowned. Yet the diary entries… reveal Barthes to be extraordinarily sensitive and relatable.” (via The Rumpus)
Mexican-American novelist Sandra Cisneros was awarded the PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, judged by a panel that consisted of authors Alexander Chee, Edwidge Danticat, and Valeria Luiselli. Since the publication of her groundbreaking novel, The House on Mango Street, Cisneros has influenced generations of writers – as noted in our recent conversation between Ada Limón and Erika Sánchez.