With the help of the students in Oberlin’s Advanced Fiction Workshop, Dan Chaon whittled the 200-story longlist provided by Wigleaf’s editors into The Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions. Enjoy your reading, everybody.
Punctuation can be as important as the prose. At Vulture, Kathryn Schultz discusses the five best punctuation marks in literature. The list includes this delightful parenthetical from Lolita, “My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three…”
Who’s ready for a trip to Tokyo? Sadie Stein at The Paris Review breaks the lid on a veritable Shangri-La for book lovers, a quasi-bunkhouse known as Book and Bed. Book and Bed is a bunkhouse-slash-bookstore that doesn’t actually sell books. Instead, they have a number of rather spartan beds built inside row after row of bookshelves. Their noble goal is also a simple one; to offer “an experience shared by everyone at least once: the blissful instant of falling asleep while reading.”
“Fiction is messier. Essay is, for me, an attempt at a kind of clarity. I have a very messy and chaotic mind, but when I’m writing an essay I find I can exert a bit more control over it.” The The Guardian published a Q&A with Zadie Smith with questions from fellow authors, politicians, and fans. Smith’s upcoming essay collection, Feel Free, is featured in the first half of our 2018 Great Book Preview.
“Quite possibly I’m a narrower, nastier and less morally responsible writer now than I was the day before my son was born. I certainly hope so.” We know Father’s Day was over a week ago, but here’s a belated link to a refreshingly cliché-free New York Times Bookends piece on parenting and writing, featuring James Parker and Mohsin Hamid.
“War isn’t a destination, nor is it a topic to be mined for scribes with nothing else to say … War can be a subject, like any other, and it can be written about well, and it can be written about poorly.” Here is Matt Gallagher, author of the Iraq-war novel Youngblood, in an interview with J.T. Price at Bomb. Last week, Gallagher interviewed another great young novelist/veteran (and winner of the 2014 National Book Award in fiction), Phil Klay.
“I’m annoyed that so many young rapists lack interest in their own motivations, or are led to believe that an absence of real psychic motive will make the crime merely an act, when really it’s the uninterested mereness of the act that makes it feel, to some victims, so criminal.” Sarah Nicole Prickett compares the many letters released following Brock Turner’s trial at n+1.