Elif Batuman, Francine Prose, and Lorin Stein are among the critics, authors, and editors who reveal their least favorite “great books.”
“The wish to be a writer, and the will to be one, solve nothing about how you will live, and don’t even solve anything about how you will write. You have given yourself the vaguest designation.” Kristy Eldredge writes for The Rumpus about drawing inspiration from the unconventional career choices of Year in Reading alum Geoff Dyer, including the New York Times column he almost never wrote. Pair her essay with our own Janet Potter‘s review of Dyer’s latest full-length work, Another Great Day at Sea.
“Post-apocalyptic books are thriving for a simple reason: The world feels more precariously perched on the lip of the abyss than ever, and facing those fears through fiction helps us deal with it.” A look at the future of post-apocalyptic fiction from NPR, with a mention of our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s Station Eleven.
“I have a big global voice, but a small local one, because I don’t want to be a target, and resent that in 2017, that’s still the only choice I get to have. I have a rule of leaving the party, or social space as soon as I see five white people drunk, because the only person who will remember that moment when everybody got hella racist will be me. I have a self-imposed curfew of when to ride my bike home, when to leave the park. I would rather risk my life riding late at night on the empty and mostly dark greenway, than riding on the street with Police officers looking for whoever matches a description.” A Brief History of Seven Killings author Marlon James writes on Facebook (?) about being big, close, and black in the U S of A. Pair with Kaulie Lewis on reading James’s The Book of Night Women during her senior year.
“All poems of public grief are private poems first,” writes Mark Doty in his evaluation of Wisława Szymborska’s poem, “Photograph from September 11th.” Indeed, what Doty learned “over the course of those dozen years, was that the words one hammers out in private, in order to attempt some kind of sense, may end up being used by people in ways you could have never anticipated.”
This fall the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program is offering a free, 7-session live online Advanced Fiction Seminar. The course will run from September 16 through October 28, and it will be taught by fiction writer Nate Brown. Best of all? It’s open to anyone with an internet connection. Applications are due September 6th.