“Fiction is messier. Essay is, for me, an attempt at a kind of clarity. I have a very messy and chaotic mind, but when I’m writing an essay I find I can exert a bit more control over it.” The The Guardian published a Q&A with Zadie Smith with questions from fellow authors, politicians, and fans. Smith’s upcoming essay collection, Feel Free, is featured in the first half of our 2018 Great Book Preview.
New this week: The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud, A Guide to Being Born by Ramona Ausubel, NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, and three newly translated books from by Icelandic author Sjón: The Blue Fox, The Whispering Muse, and From the Mouth of the Whale. New in paperback is The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers.
We know Ernest Hemingway could drink, but he also could make an excellent burger. At The Paris Review blog, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan cooked up Papa’s famous patty. “The burger was delicious: each bit of it oozed a complex and textured umami, earthy and deep,” she writes. In other Hemingway news, Harper’s will publish a forgotten story, “My Life in the Bull Ring With Donald Ogden,” in its October issue, but only because Hemingway’s estate wouldn’t let Vanity Fair print it. The magazine rejected the story in 1924 and as his son put it, “I’m not a great fan of Vanity Fair. It’s a sort of luxury thinker’s magazine, for people who get their satisfaction out of driving a Jaguar instead of a Mini.”
“Over three decades of almost constant composing and recording, he would amass over sixty LPs, running the gamut from early records with his band the Mothers of Invention that helped to create the milieu we think of as the Sixties, to caustic send-ups of that same counterculture, doo-wop pastiche, tape cut-ups, film scores, gonzo cabaret, big-band charts, way out prog, show tunes, music composed entirely on and for the Synclavier digital sampler, full-score orchestral music, and thousands of scabrous, exploratory guitar solos.” On Frank Zappa, music theory wizard and occasional public intellectual.
The new issue of The New York Review of Books is out. A highlight, as usual, is Michael Wood, who does a better job than we did with Inherent Vice. But those of us on this side of the pay wall will have to make do with Lorrie Moore‘s intriguing essay on Clarice Lispector.