The Guardian‘s Books Blog is hosting a tournament to determine “The Great American Novelist,” and the list of the final 32 seeded contenders, as voted by the site’s readers, is enough to raise some eyebrows—not as much for who did make the cut as for who didn’t. Guardian readers, haven’t you heard of Richard Yates?
“That’s why I’m organizing this fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, because for me the right to say what happens to my body is the right to make art.” Year-in-Reading alum Claire Vaye Watkins has launched “Dabbler’s Ball,” an art auction featuring work by some other boldtype names you might know (Ramona Ausubel, Lauren Groff, Tom McGuane, Emma Straub). Bidding runs until September 5th and 100% of the proceeds will go toward the venerable PP. See also: our reviews of Vaye Watkins’s novel Gold Fame Citrus and Battleborn, her first story collection.
Over in the New Statesmen, Ed Smith makes the case for increasing your productivity by making sure to get your R&R. He mentions Bertrand Russel’s In Praise of Idleness, which is my go to piece for arguing with myself against being too busy to argue with myself. Or would be, if only I could find the time.
Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction’s Why Fiction Matters series. “The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed.” Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.