Now online: PEN World Voices video of Keith Gessen interviewing Vladimir Sorokin, author of the just-released Ice Trilogy and Day of the Oprichnik. I was a little nonplussed by the Times‘ decision to begin its profile of Sorokin with a discussion of his hair, but really…it is quite something. Come for the mane, stay for the acerbic insights.
“Once [Jenny] Diski did get going as a writer, she and [Doris] Lessing agreed to a kind of literary nonaggression pact: Lessing would not write about Diski if Diski would not write about Lessing. Even now, I sensed a note of anxiety in Diski’s attitude toward her current project. When I asked her if she had any titles in mind for the finished work, she said: ‘Gratitude.’ Or: ‘Ingratitude.’ I can’t decide which.’”
Considering an anthology about writers leaving New York came out last year (with a contribution by our own Emily St. John Mandel), it makes sense that we should now look back on the career of E.B. White, who gave up his Manhattan apartment for a farm in rural Maine.
Landlord, patron, gardener, traveler— Elizabeth Gilbert is so much more than a memoirist. Steve Almond profiles Gilbert for The New York Times and finds out about her return to fiction with her new novel, The Signature of All Things. Yet Gilbert doesn’t disparage her Eat, Pray, Love fame and readers, even if others do. “I want to say: ‘Go [expletive] yourself! You have no idea who the women are who read my books, and if I have to choose between them and you, I’m choosing them.’”
“It’s a major work of scholarship and interpretation, but also one that some readers may foolishly reject as unimportant on account of its theme, the ultimate ‘minor’ topic in the eyes of the heterosexual masses.” In the LRB, Terry Castle reviews Lisa Cohen’s new biography.