“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.
Kirkus Reviews is launching a new literary prize this year with a hefty purse and an even more eye-catching process. Instead of relying on publishers or judges for a longlist, they'll automatically nominate any book that wins a Kirkus Star—about 10 percent of those reviewed—and award three annual prizes of $50,000 to the best fiction, nonfiction, and young readers' literature. But the big news is that self-published books will also be eligible.
"In eleven years, I’ve written four books: three novels and one story collection. Only the story collection has ever seen the light of day; the first two novels, including my thesis, were never published and the third novel is making the rounds with agents right now. I’d like to believe I’ve learned a few things about how fiction works over this time, but perhaps it is more accurate to write that I have learned how my fiction does – or in many cases, does not – work." Michael Nye, who's written for us before, shares his "Lessons in Failure and Writing a Novel" on the Missouri Review blog.
David Remnick's biography of President Obama, The Bridge is out. (The Times explained how Remnick finds time to run the New Yorker and write a 700-page biography of a sitting president.) Also new: Another chronicle of the collapse, The End of Wall Street by talented financial journalist Roger Lowenstein; Nobel laureate Jose Saramago's "blog book" The Notebook; another in the posthumously published oeuvre of Irène Némirovsky, Dimanche and Other Stories; the latest from A.L. Kennedy, What Becomes; and Tom Rachman's touted debut The Imperfectionists.
The Tournament of Books rolls along with a few first round upsets (Congratulations, Sarvas!), but the highlight thus far might be a glimpse of Junot Díaz's one-of-kind victor's shirt from last year.Meanwhile, Stop Smiling offers up a Díaz interview.John Leonard's son compiles a concordance to his father's vigorous criticism, in which "thug," "libidinal," and "linoleum" make the top 10.The breathless inventorying of Roberto Bolaño's posthumous papers continues.Our friend Eliza Barclay reports from the Andes, finding little cause for optimism.Victor Lavalle becomes the most recent essayist spurred to eloquence by the Obama inauguration.Also from the Atlantic, Hitchens and Marx: On again?James Wood and Claire Messud get grilled - sort of - by The Harvard Crimson: he's the chef, she does laundry.The people who put William Kristol on payroll show themselves capable of good judgment. Congratulations, Ross Douthat!Wikipedia find of the week: beghilos (aka calculator spelling)Audrey Niffeneger is not feeling the recession. The NYT says $5 mil for The Time Traveler's Wife follow-up.NPR explores the doodles of powerful people.CAAF spends some time with the Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus and pauses on "limn."Clay Shirky elucidates, perhaps better than most media pundits have, why newspapers need to be "thinking the unthinkable."
The release date for Thomas Pynchon’s new novel is three weeks away, and to mark the occasion, Boris Kachka runs through a quick biography of the perpetually mysterious author. Among other things, Kachka points out that Pynchon resides in a fairly odd neighborhood for a recluse to choose to live in -- the Upper West Side. (Previously: "Thomas Pynchon to Publish New Novel" and "New Thomas Pynchon Teaser.")