Paris Review editor Lorin Stein recommends a couple of self-help books to one reader in this week’s mail blog. “Let your self-help freak flag fly!” he writes. Such might put you in esteemed company. As Maria Bustillos pointed out in her poignant investigation for The Awl, David Foster Wallace treasured many self help books.
Over at ZYZZYVA, Christian Kiefer talks to playwright Octavio Solis and novelist Scott Hutchins about the craft of writing and the difference between writing plays and writing novels. “It takes a huge amount of hard labor, man, to harness the forces that we are using to make our stories. They may emerge whole cloth out of our need to know how we operate as humans, but they’re often clumsy unfinished beasts." Kiefer’s new novel, The Animals, is one of the most anticipated books of 2015.
Recommended Reading: This review, though it is really much more than that, of Daniel Williams' Defenders of the Unborn. Williams' book takes a detailed look at the history of anti-abortion activism before Roe v. Wade, but more generally it seeks to complicate our entire definition of activism in the context of the pro-life/pro-choice debate.
Former Brat Packer Molly Ringwald makes her literary debut with When It Happens to You: A Novel in Stories this week. Also out this week, Where'd You Go, Bernadette by comedy writer turned novelist Maria Semple, The St. Zita Society by Edgar Award-winner Ruth Rendell, and, in non-fiction, Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep by David K. Randall.