New this week is Jonathan Evison’s West of Here, Joyce Carol Oates’ memoir A Widow’s Story about the death of her husband (this was the source of her recent, quite moving essay in the New Yorker), and the expanded rerelease of Alexander Theroux’s The Strange Case of Edward Gorey. Also new on shelves from NYRB Classics is Irretrievable by Theodor Fontane, with an introduction by Phillip Lopate, who discussed Fontane in our Year in Reading in December.
One of the struggles of being a writer is that everyone else is trying to turn your life into a story. Rebecca Makkai comments on well-intentioned friends who suggest story ideas at Ploughshares. Read a piece of her story (or screenplay) below:
“WRITER: So I was like, ‘Excuse me, are you with the Secret Service?’ and she’s like—
NEIGHBOR’S BOYFRIEND: Wait, wait, have you written this down? Aren’t you a writer? This would make a great story!”
Reading War and Peace was always a challenge, but how much harder is it in an age of constant distraction? At Salon, Mike Harris, a self-confessed distraction addict, writes about his experience tackling the Russian classic. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on the book’s effect on perception.
Literary Disco, a podcast hosted by Julia Pistell, Tod Goldberg, and Rider Strong (yeah! Sean from Boy Meets World!) is just great. In the most recent installment the hosts revisit their bookshelves and describe their new findings from rereading some faves, including Strong’s overwhelming reaction to T.C. Boyle‘s author photo.
“There are writers we instinctively, permanently dislike: not only will we never read them, we will quietly relish the not-reading, finding in it a pleasure that can occasionally rival reading itself.” Dan Piepenbring explores the advantages of not reading for the The Paris Review. Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s essay on the art of not finishing books.