Recent Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes about the difference between publishing your first book and your second book for Ploughshares. Let’s just say it’s the difference between champagne and “all the whiskey.” Pair with Zhanna Slor‘s Millions interview with Makkai in which they discuss that second book, The Hundred-Year House.
Sara Majka’s debut collection Cities I’ve Never Lived In is forthcoming from Graywolf Press. At Longreads, check out one of her short stories from the collection on working in soup kitchens across the country. Pair with our celebration of Short Story Week for recommendations, reviews, and more.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara is scooping up award nominations left and right. Given the relative heaping of praise, it’s interesting to hear a dissenting voice. This review from the London Review of Books offers us just that. If it’s more Yanagihara you’re after, here she is in a recent interview for The Millions.
I’d heard that the New Yorker excerpt was the opening of Jonathan Franzen’s new novel Freedom, but it turns out it is preceded in the novel by this: “The news about Walter Berglund wasn’t picked up locally–he and Patty had moved away to Washington two years earlier and meant nothing to St. Paul now–but the urban gentry of Ramsey Hill were not so loyal to their city as not to read the New York Times. According to a long and very unflattering story in the Times, Walter had made quite a mess of his professional life out there in Washington. His old neighbors had some difficulty reconciling the quotes about him in the Times (‘arrogant,’ ‘high-handed,’ ‘ethically compromised’) with the generous, smiling, red-faced 3M employee they remembered pedaling his commuter bicycle up Summit Avenue in February snow; it seemed strange that Walter, who was greener than Greenpeace and whose own roots were rural, should be in trouble now for conniving with the coal industry and mistreating country people. Then again, there had always been something not quite right about the Berglunds.”
Scaachi Koul’s childhood friend introduced her to Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books candidly: “You’d probably like them,” she said. “They’re really depressing.” Now, in a piece for Buzzfeed, Koul explains how the works have helped her into adulthood. (Bonus: Koul’s forthcoming essay collection, One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter, made our Great 2017 Book Preview.)