I have an essay in the September issue of Poets & Writers on “The Social Value of MFA Programs.” Sadly, P&W deems the piece too valuable to give away for free on the Web, so if you want to read it, you’ll have to go to your local newsstand and buy a copy.
Andrew Marantz reviews R. Kelly’s “breezy” and “revealing” memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me, for The New Yorker’s book blog, Page-Turner. This might be what they meant when they said they were “rebooting” the Book Bench. (Related: hear Gary Oldman read some passages from the book.)
The second time Eudora Welty met William Faulkner, the latter brought the former out on a ride in his boat. She wrote a letter to Jean Stafford in 1949 that described the experience in entertaining detail. At The Paris Review Daily, you can read the letter in full. Pair with: James McWilliams on Faulkner’s novel The Reivers.
Hungarian author and 2002 Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertész announced his retirement, reports Nicolas Gary in the French publication ActuaLitté. (Link to Google's translation into English.) As a "gesture of reconciliation" the Fatelessness author and Holocaust survivor has decided to give nearly 35,000 of his papers to the Academy of Arts in Berlin. Meanwhile, Kertész has recently had several of his shorter works released in handsome Melville House editions. (h/t Hari Kunzru)
"Jeopardy!" champion Ken Jennings charts “the wide, weird world of geography” in his latest book Maphead. NPR investigates his process in a “Fresh Air” interview. Scribner Books provides a small sample as well. While discussing the particulars of America’s “Road Geeks,” Jennings makes it clear to this listener that he’d probably be interested in Cynthia Enloe and Joni Seager’s The Real State of America Atlas, which was reviewed by our own Bill Morris last July.
"Being nominated for an award feels the way I imagine winning the lottery must feel: You’re deeply grateful and a little disoriented, you feel very lucky, and you know that it could just as easily have been someone else." Our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about "the vast distance between literary prizes and literary work" and reading Norman Mailer for The Atlantic's By Heart series (which we've covered many, many times before).
ICYMI Colin Kaepernick was named GQ's 2017 Citizen of the Year a few weeks ago. In light of this honor two of his closest friends "have compiled a list of 'Freedom Dream' resources spanning close to two centuries—including books, essays, films, documentaries, songs, and museums—that can help readers, viewers, and listeners to understand race as the central political, cultural, economic, social, and geographic organizing principle of our nation, past and present. For it is only when we acknowledge the centrality of race in dictating the outcomes of life and death in the United States can we begin to work toward meaningful forms of racial justice." Find the books, music and movies that helped inspire Kaepernick (and that will enlighten you too) here.