HTMLGiant is running a cool series of interviews with readers who recently finished long or difficult books. Check out their takes on Lee Child’s Echo Burning, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and William Gaddis’s The Recognitions over here, here, and here, respectively. Also, while on the topic of difficult books, check out Emily Colette Wilkinson and Garth Risk Hallberg’s round-up of their ten top picks.
A new, non-profit literary journal has launched in Austin, Texas. Each issue of The Austin Review will include four pieces of flash non-fiction, four short stories, and one work of critical analysis. Special attention will be paid to writers from the city that gave us Sixth Street.
Apropos of our popular “Open Letter to Kanye West,” may we recommend the “Shouts & Murmurs in this week’s New Yorker? “I have more than a million [Facebook] fans,” writes a certain unnamed narrator. “Do you know how many fans Books have? Twenty-five thousand seven hundred and sixty-four.”
“Writing difference is a challenge, particularly in fiction. How do men write women and vice versa? How do writers of one race or ethnicity write about people of another race or ethnicity? More important, how do writers tackle difference without reducing their characters to caricatures or stereotypes?” Roxane Gay reviews Joyce Carol Oates‘s The Sacrifice and simultaneously explains how to write difference well. Hint: it “demands empathy, an ability to respect the humanity of those you mean to represent.”
New this week: The Tusk That Did the Damage by Tania James; B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman; The Dream of My Return by Horacio Castellanos Moya; The Last Word by Hanif Kureishi; A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara; and The Discreet Hero by Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Add this to the roster of great literary takedowns. Apparently Evelyn Waugh once wrote the following about Proust: “Nobody told me he was a mental defective. He had no sense of time.” (This stands in stark contrast with the views of Aleksandar Hemon, who wrote in a recent Year in Reading piece that Swann’s Way is “one of those miraculous books that gets better with every re-reading.”)