The true confessions of Lev Grossman, book reviewer: “There was a time when I actually believed, because I was an ass, that as a critic I was an avenging angel with a flaming sword, and that part of my job was to help rid the culture of books that were sucking up more of the literary oxygen than they deserved.”
“Maybe I [felt] a shift in responsibility when I had kids. I wanted the work I was doing, whatever it was, to be something that could be meaningful to them one day. That’s where the germ of the memoir came from. I thought that perhaps writing about my parents and where I came from would one day be helpful for my kids.” For Guernica, Christopher Kondrich interviews Tracy K. Smith about writing a memoir, the presence of David Bowie in her Life on Mars, and her reverence for the cosmic. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
Year in Reading alum Susan Orlean’s next book will be entitled The Library Book. It will be “a love letter to an endangered institution, exploring their history, their people, their meaning and their future as they adapt and redefine themselves in a digital world.” The book will focus in particular on the unsolved 1986 razing of the Los Angeles Central Library.
Remember when I wrote about Bonnie Huie’s translation of Qiu Miaojin’s Notes of a Crocodile? Well here’s some more about Huie’s work. Over at the PEN blog, you can check out the translator’s introduction to Miaojin as well as an additional excerpt from the translation-in-progress.
Out this week: Eat Only When You’re Hungry by Lindsay Hunter; The Locals by Jonathan Dee; Rebellion by Molly Patterson; Red Light Run by Baird Harper; Darkansas by Jarret Middleton; and Double Portrait by Brittany Perham. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.