Reif Larsen’s “The Crying of Page 45” appears in this month’s issue of The Believer. This clever, inventive essay is excerpted from the book I co-edited The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. You can get a taste of the piece at The Believer website, but the full essay in all its illustrated glory is available in the print magazine as well as in, of course, the book.
Want to wean yourself off gin, recover from tuberculosis, and work on your novel? Don’t go to Asheville, North Carolina. NPR reports that F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda spent two tumultuous summers in the town, where Zelda was in a psychiatric hospital and Scott was suicidal. For more on the unhappy life of Zelda, read our review of Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.
Just in time for today’s Booker announcement, a pair of shortlisters are now (or will be tomorrow) available stateside: In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut and The Finkler Question by Howard Jacobson. Ian Frazier’s big travelogue (generously excerpted in the New Yorker) Travels in Siberia is out, as is Adam Levin’s massive The Instructions from McSweeney’s. Three more: Djibouti by Elmore Leonard, How to Read the Air by Dinaw Mengestu, and a gorgeous Library of America edition of “six novels in woodcuts” by pioneering graphic novelist Lynd Ward.
I’ve written before about the First Sentence series at Granta. The magazine asks a prominent writer to explain how they came to write an opening line. Recently, they asked Bear Down, Bear North author Melinda Moustakis to talk about the beginning of her story “River So Close”: “She’s a good-for-nothing chummer.” You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark on the art of the opening sentence.