Kenyan author Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o’s moving speech at The Sunday Times Literary Awards in which he speaks about the resilience of literature and the necessity of keeping less-popular languages alive is now available online. (Here’s our handy guide to pronouncing the author’s name, in case you were too embarrassed to ask.)
“Hill had maintained a daily writing routine since age 13, completing four or five books as a teen and four more as an adult, and was now, at the cusp of 35, finally putting out a novel—a ghost story.” GQ profiles Joe Hill about his writing, being the son of Stephen King, and finding success in his own right. From our archives: our own editor Lydia Kiesling‘s essay on King, nostalgia, and America.
The Millions Walking Tour of NYC Indie Bookstores is only a week away. Get all the details and RSVP.Little Dorrit is must-see-TV in the Packer household.For those considering undertaking Infinite Jest, we recommend Slate’s Audio Book Club discussion.Meanwhile, in the first installment of New York Magazine’s new “Reading Room” feature, participants get, er… wet.”‘I never wanted to write this book,'” [Alec Baldwin] tells us… ‘It was also a book I never wanted to read, but here we are, Alec and I, making the best of a bad situation.'”The influence of the late J.G. Ballard, who died this week, reached from Jonathan Lethem to Thom Yorke.What’s Bret Easton Ellis up to? Not much, apparently.An inspired blog feature collects one-star Amazon reviews of the classics (via HTMLGIANT).In praise of Peter Handke and A.J. Liebling.Senator Arlen Specter realizes that there’s no way to endear yourself to Republican primary voters like writing for The New York Review of Books.William H. Gass goes for baroque. (via The Complete Review)Some small presses are trying out a subscription model.The earliest known dust jacket for a book has been found. (via LitKicks)The Orange Prize shortlist has been announced.Ben Yogoda writes a defense of common English.Trade paperbacks thrive in tough times. (Our suggestion: make them even smaller.)Earth Day was this past week, and now we know: used books are “greener” than new.
“The good detective story writer (there must after all be a few) competes not only with all the unburied dead but with all the hosts of the living as well. And on almost equal terms; for it is one of the qualities of this kind of writing that the thing that makes people read it never goes out of style.” Raymond Chandler’s 1950 essay, “The Simple Art of Murder” is a real gem.
Don’t Cry author Mary Gaitskill reviews Gillian Flynn’s wildly successful thriller, Gone Girl, for the pages of Bookforum. What she finds is that the book isn’t really frightening because of its plot per se, but rather because its two main characters “do not resemble actual people so much as grotesquely smiling masks driven by forces of extreme artifice, and it’s exactly that extreme artificial quality that’s frightening to the point of sickening.” For what it’s worth, Edan Lepucki, Michael Bourne, Ed Park, Janet Potter, and Jennifer duBois each named Flynn’s book in their most recent Year in Reading pieces.
Leigh Stein‘s writing has appeared in places such as DIAGRAM, H_NGM_N, and Dzanc’s Best of the Web 2010. She also has a weekly column for The Faster Times. Her debut novel, The Fallback Plan, will be released next January by Melville House. Publisher’s Weekly thinks pretty highly of it.