Megan Abbott’s Dare Me is out today. Learn more about her in an essay we published a year ago. Also out are You & Me by Padgett Powell, ML Stedman’s debut novel The Light Between the Oceans, and Dead Stars by L.A. great Bruce Wagner.
“Welty and Millar struck up an epistolary friendship that endured until his death in 1983, exchanging some 345 letters. Even after the onset of Alzheimer’s disease left Millar unable to reply, Welty wrote him.” On the enduring friendship and almost-romance of Eudora Welty and Ross MacDonald from The Paris Review.
“If we are now relentlessly connected, every marginal identity gaining collective recognition, becoming assimilated, ever more rapidly? If that is where we stand, then something like a stubbornly solitary voice may be welcome, even necessary, telling us that what it means to be human—and what may keep us human—is to feel alone in a strange room, with our seclusion the thing that defines and can save us.” On bearing witness to the spectacle of aloneness and the fiction of empathy.
Now that Louise Erdrich has won the National Book Award, it’s worth looking back on her interviews from recent years. You can read her piece in the Art of Fiction series, published in 2010 in The Paris Review; you could try her interview with the Times from back in October; or else you could take a look at her sit-down with The New Yorker in April. (This probably goes without saying, but you could also just read her new novel.)
A surreal theater production of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, directed by Yukio Ninagawa, premiered at the Lincoln Center Festival in July. Ian Buruma writes for the NYRB about the marriage of tradition and modernity, and Western and Eastern references in the play. As he puts it, “even without traditional references, the production—perhaps more than Murakami’s novel—is still unmistakably Japanese: stylized, poetic, comical, violent, full of spectacular effects, and often exquisitely beautiful to look at. The setting jumps at lightning speed from a bus station, to a library, to a sleazy bar area. Various characters emerge and disappear, like memories or scenes from a dream, in an assortment of moving transparent boxes.”
After a Boston attorney banned the publication of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman set out to defend the book, arguing that the sex that earned the book censorship was an integral part of the experience he wanted to convey. In an essay for Salon, John Marsh examines Whitman’s defense in light of the content of his work, exploring the ways in which he upset Puritan mores. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on how Walt Whitman saved his life.