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.”
Starting today, you can launch occasional Millions writer James Kaelan and his book, We’re Getting On, a “composite novel” (made up of two stories and two novellas, all thematically linked). And because this is part of his Zero-Emissions Book Project, Kaelan will promote his book by bike on a cross-country reading tour.
“There’s something to be said for allusive titles: they can be intriguing and draw you in. And obscure titles at least make a change from the current trend for The Woman Who Climbed out of Her Car and Mowed the Lawn. (I made that one up, though it could be a bestseller). But when it comes to titles that are simply misleading, there are just far, far too many.” In a piece for the Guardian Moira Remond considers some of the most misleading and misunderstood book titles, such as John Williams‘s Stoner (which our own Claire Cameron wrote about here.)
“Proulx’s deep reverence for the beauty and complexities of rural America has introduced millions of readers to the wide breadth of American life. Her commitment to crafting compassionate, honest stories has left an indelible mark on literature and created a powerful and enduring legacy.” Annie Proulx nabs the National Book Foundation’s lifetime achievement award. Check out her Year-in-Reading entry from this past year here.
In a recent interview with Bookforum, Wells Tower dropped an enticing little detail about his latest project: a novel. Playing coy with the interviewer, Tower admitted only that “it will concern a family and it will contain a good number of pages.” No release date has been set at this time.
Elaine Kaufman supported writers at her restaurant when she was alive, and the Table 4 Writers Foundation keeps her legacy going with its grant. The third annual writers’ grants contest will award a $5,000 grand prize and two $2,500 prizes for promising writers. Applications are due by November 15 and can be submitted here. For more on Kaufman, read our own Bill Morris’s tribute.