Former nytimes.com design director Khoi Vinh tries to renew his digital subscription to the paper, and it doesn’t go well: “The total customer experience here is haphazard at best, and, at worst — I hate to say this because I am still friendly with many people at the company, but in truth there’s no way around it — it’s insulting.”
“‘I think she is better than J. L. Borges—who is good, but not all that good!” said poet Elizabeth Bishop of Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector. Bishop was one of Lispector’s first English translators, but also one of her fiercest critics. Alexandra Pechman writes for the Poetry Foundation about their literary rivalry and grudging respect. Pair with Magdalena Edwards’s Millions review of Lispector's The Complete Stories.
New this week: Satin Island by Tom McCarthy; The Infernal by Mark Doten; The Half Brother by Holly LeCraw; All the Wrong Places: A Life Lost and Found by Philip Connors; Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman; Making Nice by Matt Sumell; After Birth by Elisa Albert; Blue Stars by Emily Ray Tedrowe; The Illuminations by Andrew O’Hagan; The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty by Amanda Filipacchi; and Find Me by Laura van den Berg. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2015 Book Preview.
How do you write an accurate memoir without perpetuating stereotypes? Jesmyn Ward struggled with this when writing about absent black fathers and husbands in her book Men We Reaped. "I also had to figure out how much of the truth do I tell, how do I make the truth as balanced as I possibly can? How do I make these people as complicated and as human and as unique and as multifaceted as I possibly can? For me, that was the way I attempted to counteract some of that criticism," she told The Rumpus.
David Orr writes for The New York Times about Christopher Gilbert’s new collection of poems, Turning Into Dwelling, and the importance of innovation in poetry. As he puts it, “One of the hidden strengths of art is that there is always the possibility that what had seemed like a final breath may simply be the long pause before a new inhalation.” Pair with Andrew Kay’s Millions essay on the power of poetry.
"I have always had faith that the best writers will rise to the top, like cream, sooner or later, and will become exactly as well known as they should be—their work talked about, quoted, taught, performed, filmed, set to music, anthologized. Perhaps, with the present collection, Lucia Berlin will begin to gain the attention she deserves." An excerpt from Lydia Davis's foreword to Berlin's A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories is now online.