You’ve read Elif Batuman’s dissertation on the double-entry book-keeping of novelists (pdf), but now your “debit” balance is low. (Whose isn’t these days?) Enter Sheila Heti and Misha Glouberman. They can document your very essence. The Paris Review has an excerpt from The Chairs Are Where the People Go.
“WHAT DO YOU DO? If you go to the elder debate and support gay marriage because all members of your village should have the right to a love that’s recognized by the State, close the book now. You will not impress the elders whose support you will so desperately need on your journey. Instead, your bravery will be met by an angry horde who throws you into Deadman’s Bog. If you oppose Zylorg’s marriage until a more politically opportune time — perhaps, after several gay bogmen sitcoms become popular — then congratulations, advance to page 38.” These excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s imagined, dystopian, choose-your-own-adventure YA novel are enlightening.
Probably the biggest literary debut the week is Arthur Phillips’ The Tragedy of Arthur, a faux memoir about the surfacing of a long-lost Shakespeare play. Also out this week is the first book from former Soft Skull head Richard Nash’s new venture Red Lemonade: Lynne Tillman’s Someday This Will Be Funny. And, finally, now out in paperback is Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. (Our two reviews)
New this week: Paul Auster’s latest, Sunset Park; a new collection of short stories from Stephen King called Full Dark, No Stars; The Memory Hole, a memoir by the historian Tony Judt who recently died from ALS (the essays collected here appeared in recent months in the New York Review of Books); and the latest obligatory obfuscatory presidential memoir Decision Points.
Two of my favorite writing contests are wrapping up this October. You have until the first of the month to enter the Missouri Review’s Editors’ Prize Contest. $5,000 will be awarded to the best fiction, essay, and poetry. Meanwhile, you have until October 31st to enter DIAGRAM’s Essay Contest, which is open to all types of essays such as those “in an expansive sense, meaning essay as experiment, essay as heterogenous and sometimes strange or unruly beast.” That contest’s prize is $1,000 plus publication.
In the pages of the Washington Post, the venerable Miss Manners responds to an English department secretary who feels “besieged by fringe ‘academics’ who are very adamant that we are part of a conspiracy to cover up the fact that Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was Shakespeare.”
“A vast human action is going on. Death watches. So if you have some happiness, conceal it. And when your heart is full, keep your mouth shut also.” Saul Bellow saw a bit of resurgence this year with the publication of his collected non-fiction, There Is Simply Too Much to Say. Why do we need him now more than ever? According to Michael Weiss at The Daily Beast, it’s because he has “a bit of the opposition in him.” This essay is exhaustive and thoroughly researched and well worth your time.