If you haven’t seen Knopf art director Chip Kidd’s humorous TED Talk yet, you should really get right on that. He makes a good “visual first impression,” discusses the role of a book designer, the smell of an iPad, and does it all while wearing a “skanky mic.”
In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.
Over at Bloom check out this 3-part feature—a conversation and excerpts—on fiction writers-cum-memoirists Robin Black (If I Loved You I Would Tell You This, Life Drawing) and Natalie Serber (Shout Her Lovely Name)—former classmates at the Warren Wilson low-res MFA program, both later-life bloomers, and both “writing for their lives” in new memoirs.
A while back, I pointed readers to Ayn Rand’s version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, helpfully published by The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg. It satisfied those of you who never understood why Harry didn’t slough off his legions of parasitic friends. Now, The Toast brings us the conclusion to the series, in which Harry’s labors bring him the rewards he deserves. Sample quote: “I have earned the Elder Wand through my own achievements.”
Last week, Year in Reading alum Megan Mayhew Bergman released Almost Famous Women, a new collection of stories. Now, at Bookslut, Rebecca Silber talks with her about the book, which spans nearly a decade of meticulous reading and research. Sample quote: “We need to see women who chase wild dreams and professions as ardently as men.”
Ahead of the release of Imperial Bedrooms, Vice has an interview with Bret Easton Ellis. “All my friends moved to Brooklyn. The only people I know in Manhattan are rich, and it just seems like, you know, the party was fun, but it’s kind of over for me. LA seemed to be the place to land.”
“Reading fiction is one of my true loves, but essays help me to understand things about the world, the writer, and if they’re really great, myself.” Electric Literature‘s Jason Diamond argues 2014 was “The Year of the Essay,” and when we think over the collections published this year – The Empathy Exams, The Unspeakable and Loitering, among others – it’s hard to disagree.