I am very sad to report that William Gay, whom we featured in our “Post-40 Bloomers” series last fall, died on Friday, at the age of 68. From Clarksville Online: “At first, I would send a story to the New Yorker and when it came back, I’d send it to The Atlantic, or Harper’s or Esquire. I didn’t know about the college literary magazines but when I found out about them, I started getting published. After I finally got published in the Georgia Review, I got a call from the editor at The Atlantic. He asked why I wasn’t sending them something because they’d like to publish my work. I told him I’d been sending things for years. He said they never got to his desk. I had to wonder what kind of operation they were running.” Look for his final novel The Lost Country, hopefully coming soon.
In a long investigation of Hunter S. Thompson’s classic essay, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” (PDF), Josh Roiland takes readers to church by pointing out exactly what’s so alluring about the piece, which “scholars often point to … as the origin of Gonzo Journalism.”
Are you familiar with Spook magazine founded and edited by Jason Parham? It focuses on promoting artists of color and their work. This month the fiction issue, was released and it features work from beloved writers (and Year in Reading alums!) Junot Diaz, Angela Flournoy, and Vinson Cunningham. Along with YiR favorite Justin Torres. You can buy it here! Perfect read for the snowy weekend.
On Friday, Tumblr rolled out its new “highlighted post” feature. The move is a new way to monetize the site’s content, but it’s not the only new initiative taken up by the site. As of last week, two writers have been hired by the Tumblr staff to document, well, Tumblr. (And speaking of all of this, you should totally check out my list of the best literary Tumblrs.)
Recommended Reading: Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned author Wells Tower journeyed to Tupelo, Mississippi in order to investigate the man who mailed ricin to Barack Obama.
At the LARB, Scott Korb interviews Rosie Schaap, who offers up a theory that bars and churches are both a kind of “sanctified space.” To get more insight, you could also check out her Rumpus interview, or even go watch her mix cocktails with Kurt Andersen of NPR. (You could also just go buy her book.)