Anaïs Nin had a lot to say about writing erotic fiction. Notably, she was unwilling to “leave out the poetry” and “concentrate on sex” in its place, despite repeated requests from her anonymous client to do just that. On a lighter note, Seth Fried also has some advice for aspiring writers of erotica. Quick, somebody get both of these articles to E. L. James.
“It is hard to see why anyone would abandon the generous Pearce Sectional Sofa, so we must assume that whomever was under that cozy throw was taken by force. More signs of abduction: reading glasses left atop a rare antique encyclopedia, a half-finished glass of wine, and a decorative conch shell that has tumbled to the floor, not to mention the wide-open French doors.” Pottery Barn catalogue descriptions written by an aspiring crime novelist.
New this week: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue; The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis; The Outside Lands by Hannah Kohler; I’m Still Here by Clelie Avit; and Blood in the Water by Heather Ann Thompson. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2016 Book Preview.
Can’t get enough Murakami? In the lead-up to the announcement of this year’s Nobel Prize for literature, Dan over at “How to Japonese” will post a short, new Murakami translation each week. The translations come from an unpublished (in English) collection of Murakami’s answers to his readers’ questions. This week, Murakami tackles safe sex.
How’s this sound: an eight-mile midnight stroll through Fire Island, replete with Socratic dialogue and references to Sappho, Pythagoras, Diogenes and Hippocrates? Such is exactly what you get from Island Night, the latest project of poet Jon Cotner (previously mentioned for his We’re Floating and Poem Forest projects). As the poet explains to the NY Times, his mission with the walks was to revive “the ancient and endangered practices of walking and talking.”
“And, it really means so much to us to watch our birds fly out of the high school nest and into an income bracket that could really benefit the Annual Fund this year. I mean, we have 85% of our goal, but as you know, that’s only a B. And we know that you are an A student.” Ah, what a heartwarming and totally genuine letter from my private, nonprofit high school congratulating me on my new job. Thanks, McSweeney’s.
Paula Fox, celebrated novelist and winner of the 1983 National Book Award (among other honors), died this week. Contributing to our Year in Reading series two years ago, Parul Sehgal said she couldn’t stop rereading Desperate Characters, perhaps Fox’s most popular book for adults. “It’s really a wallop of a book,” Sehgal wrote. “A barbed portrait of a marriage, not to mention a brilliant take on gentrification, white fears of black and brown people, the hostile insularity of the nuclear family, and how power reproduces and how power conceals itself.” (Bonus: Dominic Smith wants to send a scene from that novel into space.)