Let the Great World Spin author (and one of today’s YiR2011 writers!) Colum McCann had some inspiring words for this year’s crop of Boston College freshmen. “There’s a degraded discourse around the notion of optimism these days that says there is something soft about being an optimist—something wrong,” he said. “It claims that optimism has no edge, as if it’s less than complete, less than the full deck of knowledge. The optimist is cartooned into the corner with an idiotic grin. I submit to you that none of that is true.”
A couple months ago, Melville House published a biography of Roberto Bolaño, constructed from interviews the author gave throughout his life. At Full-Stop, Andrew Mitchell Davenport reads the biography, suggesting that the preponderance of myths about the author “makes elucidating Bolaño’s biography a moral issue.” Pair with: our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s Bolaño syllabus.
We’re a little late to The Guardian‘s Families in Literature series, which includes essays on everyone from the March sisters to the Moomins and has been running for the last few weeks. A particular favorite is Moira Redmond‘s look at Brideshead Revisited‘s Flytes and the strange but true power of falling in love with an entire family, which pairs well with our own Lydia Kiesling‘s Modern Library Revue of the novel.
Writers finally have a justification for their $4.00 latte habit. Even though coffee might be a detriment to imagination, the whirring of blenders and cafe chatter can boost creativity. If you want the inspiration jolt without the java, listen to Coffitivity’s recording of cafe ambient noise.
Jacob Silverman reviews two new novels – Note to Self and The More You Ignore Me – that “take on one incarnation of the Internet: the Internet as pathology” but ultimately fail to succeed “in exploring or critiquing digital life with any authority.” He notes that “like any technology, [the Internet] has to be shaped for the purposes of literature.”
Harper Lee may have died earlier this year, but the drama surrounding her final years rages on. Last week, a stage adaptation of Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird was performed in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, as it has for many years. This time, however, things got a bit contentious. Here’s a dispatch from Monroeville by Robert Rea for The Millions.
Now that we’ve casted the film adaptation of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, we’d like to turn your attention to Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s Americanah, which may be involved in an upcoming collaboration with Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o. Adichie framed the possibility this way in a recent interview: “I’m going to do the mysterious thing and say that Lupita might be making an announcement very soon.”
Surely you’ve heard the hype by now. Surely you’ve seen someone blushing and shifting their eyes askance while reading this book in public. Well, now you can get a taste of what the fuss is all about. You can read the beginning of Alissa Nutting’s Tampa courtesy of Dzanc Books and The Collagist.