The Skinny is acclaimed author Susan Orlean’s strangest work, hands down: a half-serious diet book that advises women, among other things, to cover tempting food with bleach. Not one to follow her own advice, Orlean’s diary of a week of eating for Grub Street features yogurt breakfasts, crackers eaten over sinks, and other basically realistic, bleach-free culinary adventures.
“When we think of novels, we often think of chunks of time and the action during those periods. But when I think of time, my teenage years particularly, I think of relationships.” Recent Year in Reading alum Darcey Steinke talks with The Rumpus about being a teenage girl, motherlessness, “quiet” books and her new novel, Sister Golden Hair.
Poets, dog-lovers, urban-dwellers, and really, everyone — check out poet and dog-trainer Susie DeFord‘s heartfelt and keen-eyed new book of poems, Dogs of Brooklyn. Says Vijay Seshadri, DeFord’s collection is full of “wonderful poetic investigations into the life of Brooklyn’s dogs, into their habits, their idiosyncrasies, and their secret longings.”
Out this week: The Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique; Last Stories and Other Stories by William T. Vollmann; High as the Horses’ Bridles by Scott Cheshire; The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai; Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch; A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor; The Confessions of Frances Godwin by Robert Hellenga; Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown; The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe; Mr. Gwyn by Alessandro Baricco; Road Ends by Mary Lawson; and our own Edan Lepucki’s California (which you may have seen on Colbert). For more, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Although Of Mice and Men is an iconic novella about the Great Depression, could it be set in another era? At McSweeney’s, Thomas Scott imagines Lennie and George in Silicon Valley. “Well, we’ll have a big vegetable patch and a rabbit hutch and chickens and a 7,000 square-foot Hacienda with a little landing pad on the top deck for a helicopter.”
Millions contributor Michelle Dean wrote for The New Yorker‘s Page Turner about Opal Whiteley, whose childhood diary–written when she was six on scraps of paper–was published over 100 years ago to meet with acclaim, then controversy, and then obscurity. If girl prodigies interest you as much as they do me, you’ll also love this 2010 piece from Lapham’s Quarterly, on Barbara Newhall Follett.
Tim Parks writes for the NYRB about writers living abroad. As he puts it, “But what about those writers who move to another country and do not change language, who continue to write in their mother tongue many years after it has ceased to be the language of daily conversation? Do the words they use grow arid and stiff? Or is there an advantage in being away from what is perhaps only the flavor of the day at home, the expressions invented today and gone tomorrow? Then, beyond specifically linguistic concerns, what audience do you write toward if you are no longer regularly speaking to people who use your language?” Pair with Hannah Gersen’s Millions piece on reading the English translation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words.