“It just goes to show you: it’s not just luck you need to have a successful literary career. It’s luck, piled on luck, piled on luck again, and around the corner, you need another sprinkling of it” says Michelle Dean, after investigating Stephen King’s rise in response partly to Dwight Allen’s “Snob Notes” on the author. Colin Dickey and Sarah Langan have both previously weighed on on Allen’s essay and King’s particular strengths.
New this week: The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood; Gold, Fame, Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins; Vertigo by Joanna Walsh; Syllabus of Errors by Troy Jollimore; The Good Story by Nobel laureate J.M. Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz; I Must Be Living Twice by Eileen Myles; and The Complete Works of Primo Levi. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
This week, David Mitchell (author of Cloud Atlas and the forthcoming The Bone Clocks) is releasing a new short story over 280 tweets (which you can read here). Form follows content, he explains, since his narrator is a teenager high on his mother’s Valium. Mitchell joins good company: Teju Cole, Junot Diaz, and other notables have tried their hand with this strange new form. Pair with: a stroll down memory lane with some beloved authors’ very first tweets and their best.
On June 7th Canteen is hosting a battle in NYC’s KGB Bar. The event is called Outwrite and will pit Matthew Aaron Goodman, author of Hold Love Strong, against twelve two unknown volunteers in a flash writing competition. Alexander Chee will be reading from his new novel while the contestants prepare their weapons. This would make a great #LitBeat, and if you’re interested in covering this, get in touch with me here.
In memory of Peter Matthiessen, The Missouri Review has unlocked an interview with him from 1989. Matthiessen detailed the beginning of his writing career. “I started my first novel and sent off about four chapters and waited by the post office for praise to roll in, calls from Hollywood, everything. Finally my agent sent me a letter that said ‘Dear Peter, James Fenimore Cooper wrote this a hundred and fifty years ago, only he wrote it better. Yours, Bernice.’ I probably needed that; it was very healthy.” For more Matthiessen, you can read one of his best travel essays or his new novel, In Paradise.