“I’ve always thought Yunior’s voice isn’t possible without hip-hop,” Junot Díaz says. He discusses how hip-hop influenced his writing, his top three albums (Immortal Technique’s Revolutionary Vol. 2., Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, and Big Daddy Kane’s Long Live the Kane), and even Miley Cyrus in an interview with Salon. Previously, we reported that he wrote his first book to the Conan the Barbarian soundtrack.
Jessica Francis Kane’s mother worked for Playboy back in the 1960s, a time “when it was an intellectual magazine as well as a pinup, when people really did subscribe to it for the articles.” Over at The Morning News, Kane shares a fascinating interview with her mother, and they talk about what it was “like to be a woman … in such a sexy workplace at such a weird time.”
Girls creator Lena Dunham’s first book is on shelves, as is the new short story collection by Man Booker laureate and recent Millions interviewee Hilary Mantel. Also out: On Immunity by Eula Biss; A Sudden Light by Garth Stein; Consumed by the filmmaker David Cronenberg; The Ploughmen by Kim Zupan; and The Zone of Interest by Martin Amis. For more on these and other titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
80 years ago Samuel Beckett’s publisher rejected his short story “Echo’s Bones” because it gave him the “jim-jams.” The 13,500-word piece on the afterlife was intended for More Pricks Than Kicks until his editor Charles Prentice claimed, “People will shudder and be puzzled and confused; and they won’t be keen on analysing the shudder.” Fortunately, it will finally be published by Faber and Faber on April 17.
Recommended Reading: Nathaniel Rich discusses Stephen Wright’s Meditations in Green, which he says is remarkable because “it convinces you that the war never ended.” Indeed, Rich writes, the author’s debut novel “suggests that Vietnam at some point transcended the Indochina peninsula and became a mental condition, a state of being not unlike certain forms of insanity, that has become encrypted in our genetic code.”
“He sat on a shelf of our one-roomed apartment for a while, and then one day when I was sitting in front of my typewriter staring at a blank sheet of paper wondering what to write, I idly tapped out the words ‘Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear, for Paddington was the name of the station.’ It was a simple act, and in terms of deathless prose, not exactly earth shattering, but it was to change my life considerably. … Without intending it, I had become a children’s author.” Michael Bond, creator of the Paddington Bear series, has died at 91, reports NPR. We’d like to think that Bond might have appreciated our own Jacob Lambert‘s series, “Are Picture Books Leading Children Astray?” – in particular this entry questioning the moral fiber of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.