The Guardian asked a bunch of authors, including Hilary Mantel, Geoff Dyer, and Ian Rankin, which books they “regularly reread and which novels they are desperate to unlock the secrets of.” Check out John Banville’s abiding fixation on the works on F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).
“Yes, it’s easy to laugh at the lawyers. But what if the lawyers were right? For the question that still needs to be answered, I think, is whether the arguments over the novel’s obscenity and obscurity were just temporary historical effects or whether they point to the essence of Joyce’s originality.” A longform look at why we should still find Ulysses scandalous.
To celebrate their thirteen-month anniversary, Open Letter Books is having a sale. Buy any two books from their catalog for $22, and you are also entered to win a free subscription for a full year of their titles. Don’t know where to start? Their books include Vilnius Poker, touted as the preeminent Lithuanian novel of the past twenty years, as well as Dubravka Ugresic’s formidable collection of essays, Nobody’s Home.
Chances are you’ve heard that the most important thing a writer needs to make it in the modern lit world is luck. Undoubtedly, there’s a lot of truth to that, but what if there’s another factor that has a bigger impact on a writer’s success? Sean McElwee argues for the importance of something more prosaic.