“If you didn’t feel you were discovering something as you wrote your memoir, don’t publish it. Instead hit the delete key, and then go congratulate yourself for having lived a perfectly good, undistinguished life. There’s no shame in that.” Neil Genzlinger at the New York Times lays some ground rules for those compelled to write memoirs.
The latest effort from superstar translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky: Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago is now on shelves. P & V’s The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories is in our Hall of Fame, and we interviewed the couple last year. Also out: Mark Twain’s long-embargoed Autobiography is now shipping; V.S. Naipaul’s The Masque of Africa; X’ed Out by graphic novel master Charles Burns; Avi Steinburg’s literary memoir Running the Books: Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian; and the odd literary project that is James Franco has a new collection out, Palo Alto
Recommended Reading: Sarah Gerard records her phone calls with inmate Matthew Seger as he tries to find time to write in prison. “I feel like all of these ideas I have will someday, maybe, be of some use. I don’t want to let any of them go.” We interview Matthew Parker, the author of the graphic memoir, Larceny in My Blood: A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs, and Higher Education.
For the most part, Tolstoy is known as a realist, despite his work’s occasional dips into fancy. Yet the plotlines of his great novels featured long and important dream sequences. In The New York Review of Books, Janet Malcolm argued that Tolstoy was a master of dreams, using Anna Karenina as proof.
80 years ago Samuel Beckett’s publisher rejected his short story “Echo’s Bones” because it gave him the “jim-jams.” The 13,500-word piece on the afterlife was intended for More Pricks Than Kicks until his editor Charles Prentice claimed, “People will shudder and be puzzled and confused; and they won’t be keen on analysing the shudder.” Fortunately, it will finally be published by Faber and Faber on April 17.
“Reading fiction is one of my true loves, but essays help me to understand things about the world, the writer, and if they’re really great, myself.” Electric Literature‘s Jason Diamond argues 2014 was “The Year of the Essay,” and when we think over the collections published this year – The Empathy Exams, The Unspeakable and Loitering, among others – it’s hard to disagree.