Nemesis, the latest from Philip Roth is now out. Other new fiction this week includes Nicole Krauss’ Great House and Myla Goldberg’s The False Friend. In non-fiction, Steven Johnson takes on a thought-provoking topic with Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. Also new are Ron Chernow’s massive biography of George Washington and a new book from Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life.
“Writers teach, not writing per se, but how to engage in writing as a process and a means of perception. The actual work of writing is seldom sublime. It’s a struggle that grows more difficult if we avoid it. Writing is often excruciatingly slow and repetitive. Time, in slipping and sliding, makes itself felt and immediate. Words are the way in, but nothing is guaranteed. What writers or readers can do with language, or understand inside it, depends on what they know—on refining their sensibilities, on writing, revising, waiting, reading, writing, as though living in language were life and death.” Year in Reading alumna Jayne Anne Phillips writes for the Literary Hub about the importance of writing programs. For more on the debate, check out Hannah Gersen’s Millions essay.
Does being a writer make you a bad father? Matthew Norman ponders his fear at Salon. “As a fiction writer, I’m perpetually in some state of preoccupation. At any given moment, I’m suffering over people who don’t exist—who will never exist.” Maybe he should try Polly Rosenwaike’s tactic and read fiction about the opposite parent.
“I do not find it unusual that many writers I know acquire vintage clothes, buy old homes, and rescue animals. For one, we don’t have Wall Street salaries, and secondly, we’re suckers for backstory, particularly that which is left to the imagination. Our job, after all, is to make up lives, engage in epic games of pretend.” Megan Mayhew Bergman writes for Ploughshares about collecting cast-off objects, “the chaos of memories,” and becoming a writer. Pair with David L. Ulin‘s reflection on Bergman’s essay and the way we think about memory, written for the LA Times.