Susannah Hunnewell interviews Michel Houellebecq, France’s controversial literary icon, for The Paris Review’s “The Art of Fiction” series: “There is a need for intensity. From time to time, you have to forsake harmony. You even have to forsake truth. You have to, when you need to, energetically embrace excessive things.”
The introduction Junot Díaz wrote for Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop has been adapted as a contribution to the ongoing conversation (of which The Millions has been a part) about writing programs at large and about MFA vs. NYC specifically. At issue is Díaz’s (rightful) assertion that an important topic – diversity – hasn’t been adequately addressed in evaluations of the supposed program and publishing dichotomy thus far. (Related: Sandra Cisneros’s “I Hate the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.”)
One of the most exciting new books of 2013 hits shelves today: Tenth of December by George Saunders. Also out are Will Self’s Booker shortlisted Umbrella, Rage Is Back by Adam Mansbach, Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra, Scenes from Early Life by Philip Hensher, The River Swimmer: Novellas by Jim Harrison, Y by Marjorie Celona, Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman Love is a Canoe by Ben Schrank, Driver’s Education by Grant Ginder, and new from NYRB Classics is Testing the Current by William McPherson, with an introduction by D.T. Max. New in paperback are Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru and The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan. There are many more new books to explore, of course, in our huge 2013 books preview, published this week.
New this week are Anita Desai’s The Artist of Disappearance and P.D. James’ Pride and Prejudice sequel Death Comes to Pemberly. Joseph Gordon-Levitt hangs up his acting duds to put out The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories: Volume 1, and, speaking of tiny stories, there’s Lou Beach’s 420 Characters: “these crystalline miniature stories began as Facebook status updates.” On the nonfiction side, there’s Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil by Tom Mueller.
“He was a sassy youngster…[A]s to burning the epistle up or not—it never occurred to me to do anything at all: what the hell did I care whether he was pertinent or impertinent? he was fresh, breezy, Irish: that was the price paid for admission—and enough: he was welcome!” Turns out Walt Whitman and Bram Stoker were pen pals.