Before he died, Kurt Vonnegut gave the go-ahead that has allowed Charles Shields to construct And So It Goes, an incisive, gossipy page-turner of a biography, even if it’s hard to tell just how authorized this book really is.
"By now, you are probably asking yourself, Did these two ever talk about anything serious? Of course, we did. We talked about how writing a poem is no different from taking out a frying pan and concocting a dish out of the ingredients available in the house, how in poetry, as in cooking, it’s all a matter of subtle little touches that come from long experience or are the result of sudden inspiration." Charles Simic writes movingly about his friend, the late poet Mark Strand, and their various schemes, from buying palazzos to founding a gastronomic poetry movement, for The New York Review of Books.
Daniel Orozco's Orientation collects many of his short stories in one attractive volume. Released last May, the collection features the classic story "Orientation" (Scribd) as well as newer ones such as "Shakers" (Scribd). It garnered enough hype to land him on the long list for this year's Frank O'Connor Award.
J.L. Galache wanted to honor the recently deceased Iain Banks in a way befitting the man’s memory. So of course he named an asteroid after the author. With the help of Dr. Gareth Williams of the Minor Planet Center, Galache successfully lobbied the Committee for Small Body Nomencalture of the International Astronomical Union for Asteroid 5099 to be officially dubbed Iainbanks. (Bonus: John McIntyre honors Banks’s memory by reading through some of his best work.)
The Believer posts a 2003 essay featuring Donald Barthelme's reading list, which came secondhand to Kevin Moffett, a self-professed non-reader: "Barthelme’s only guidance, passed on by Padgett Powell, one of Barthelme’s former students at the University of Houston and my teacher at the time, was to attack the books 'in no particular order, just read them,' which is exactly what I, in my confident illiteracy, resolved to do." (via The Paris Review)
The gorgeous paperback edition of our own Garth Risk Hallberg's A Field Guide to the North American Family is now out. Also new and noteworthy are Francisco Goldman's New Yorker excerpted story of the death of his young wife Say Her Name, Meg Wolitzer's The Uncoupling, Ann Packer's Swim Back to Me, Blake Butler's There is No Year, and Phillip Connors's intriguing debut, Fire Season: Field Notes from a Wilderness Lookout. Elsewhere, we've got Tina Fey's raved about memoir Bossypants and a new and long in the works biography of Malcolm X, whose author, Manning Marable died just last week on the eve of the book's publication. Finally, now out in paperback is the fiction blockbuster The Help.