God’s terse first line in the Book of Genesis — “Let there be light” — was ready-made for the Twitter generation. If only the rest was as crisp, the British novelist Jeanette Winterson recalled thinking, as she began to reckon with that first book for a new theatrical project on the King James Bible. And then it hit her: Maybe God’s wisdom would crackle for a modern audience as Twitter posts of 140 words or less.
Alex Stone reviews Guns N’ Roses founding member Duff McKagan’s memoir, It’s So Easy. It’s a book, Stone writes, that’s “intoxicating — in a pancreas-wrenching sort of way.” Bonus: McKagan’s Year in Reading for our site back in 2011.
“There has been a growth in the literary depiction of a particular type of friendship, one that has in the past found itself vulnerable to dilution and deflection by the ostensibly more powerful imperatives of heterosexuality and motherhood.” On literary female friendships, from Virginia Woolf to Elena Ferrante and Year in Reading alumna Zadie Smith.
“I wanted to be able to approach the subject from many different angles, not just the one most people think of when they think of war: an infantryman with a rifle killing the enemy. What does one make of one’s moral responsibility for killing when you’re part of a crew-fired-weapon whose rounds strike miles away, when you’re not even sure if you have killed people or how many? What about when you’re a chaplain trying to influence policy, or a psychological operations soldier trying to help shape the battlefield?” Phil Klay, author of the National Book Award-winning collection Redeployment, on modes of storytelling and on the psychological difference between citizens and veterans.
Nathaniel Philbrick answers the question Why Read Moby-Dick: “the level of the language is like no other,” but also “it’s as close to being our American Bible as we have.”