In the late 1860s, James Crichton-Browne, director of the West Riding Lunatic Asylum, gave Charles Darwin a collection of photographic portraits depicting the “afflicted and insane.” What followed was a six-year relationship in which both men corresponded about “the physical manifestations of natural selection.”
We’ve recommended reading up on Jenny Zhang‘s Sour Heart before, this interview in Hazlitt is one of our favorites. “And maybe this is crude to talk about, it’s not even that I don’t want to write a memoir. Beyond that, do you understand how vulnerable it makes someone to call something nonfiction? Not just emotionally vulnerable but financially vulnerable, do you realize someone that makes $40,000 a year cannot be hit by a lawsuit by some angry ex who objected about a chapter about him? Some guy sees one line about him, missing thousands of lines not about him. That’s why celebrities are the ones who write memoirs.”
Not long after James Lasdun released his new book, Give Me Everything You Have, Jessica Freeman-Slade reviewed it for The Millions. Now, in the latest issue of the LRB, Nick Richardson offers his own take. (You could also check out our own Mark O’Connell’s interview with Lasdun.)
“You could say that Fancy is about a couple of comical old kooks stuck in a dismal town finding creative ways of making themselves (and some luckless bystanders) crazy … and you wouldn’t be wrong. But you could also say that it’s the story of the composition of the manifesto of a bizarre and protean (protozoan?) order of being in which we’re all just patterns mistaking ourselves for people.” In a piece for BOMB Magazine, Scott Esposito interviews Jeremy M. Davies about Bernhard, Olive Garden, writing Fancy and reintroducing humor into modernist literature. Their conversation pairs well with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s look at, well, the conversations of BOMB interviews.
“I lost the first good novel I ever wrote to a computer disaster. It happened at a crucial time in my life. I was working nights, living in a mouse-infested tenement in Giuliani-era Harlem and still figuring out if I could even do this thing — become a writer for real.” Mat Johnson on NPR’s All Tech Considered blog about the ultimate authorial nightmare, and how he recovered from it. Pair with our review of Johnson’s latest novel, Loving Day.