Even if you’ve already seen the outstanding documentary Wordplay, you’ll still want to check out this Atlantic article on how Will Shortz makes his New York Times crossword puzzles.
Jenny Diski, a prolific author who'd kept up a serialized diary of living with cancer since 2014, died this morning at the age of 68. Her partner, Ian Patterson, broke the news on Twitter, after which outlets including The Guardian confirmed it. The author had recently published her final book, a memoir.
Two ways of looking at a book: "Had I been still more articulate, I might have said that there’s a special readerly pleasure in approaching a book as you would a box. In its self-containment lies its ferocious magic; you can see everything it holds, and yet its meagre, often hackneyed contents have a way of engineering fresh, refined, resourceful patterns. And Emily might have replied that she comes to a book as to a keyhole: you observe some of the characters’ movements, you hear a little of their dialogue, but then they step outside your limited purview. They have a reality that outreaches the borders of the page."
Out this week: The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson; Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford; Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet; Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter; Twilight of the Eastern Gods by Ismail Kadare; A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin; Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash; and Shark by Will Self. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
A couple dozen leading literary magazine editors recently found themselves debating "submission fees" in a long, heated, and candid listserv discussion. The complete transcript - names have been changed to protect the innocent - is alternately depressing and heartening. It's a must-read for anyone who publishes in little magazines, or plans to, or is just curious about how editors see themselves. (Update (11/12): Apparently, the literary magazine that published this content on its website had not been authorized to do so by the Council of Literary Magazines and Small Presses, which administers the listserv. The content has since been taken down; we've de-activated the link to reflect that.)
The fuss is currently over John D'Agata and Jim Fingal's clashes over factual accuracy, but frankly I'm tired of hearing about it. Maybe it's because it sounds so reminiscent of David Shields' Reality Hunger (2010). Or, better yet, maybe it's because it sounds so reminiscent of David Sedaris' Naked (1997).
At the Ploughshares blog, Erinrose Mager interviews Year in Reading alum Rick Moody, who talks about his classes at NYU and why he prefers “the mentorship model” of teaching writing over the workshop model. (Related: our founder C. Max Magee reviewed Moody’s book The Diviners back in 2006).