Just in time for Labor Day, the folks at Open Road Media have assembled their annual video of writers talking about the day jobs they’ve left behind. Did you know James Salter sold swimming pools? Or that Edna O’Brien used to weigh babies in a chemist’s shop? This year’s installment can be found here; last year’s over here.
If you’re not already a fan of Will Self, his new book, Shark, may not be the best place to start. As Walker Rutter-Bowman points out, the book dispatches with many of the conventions of modern writing, including line breaks, paragraphs and dialogue tags. But it’s still an effort worthy of its author, he writes: “Here is a hunk of modernism that poignantly, beautifully, and, it seems, genuinely renders mental states of sanity and insanity while smudging the gradations in between.”
Peek inside a part of the DIY publishing world: zines. “Before the Internet democratized media, self-publishing was one of few ways for ordinary people to record and share with a wider audience. Zines on old taboos like sexual orientation could provide a staticky connection to a community of others with nonstandard identities in an age before chat rooms and message boards and — perhaps most importantly — simple ways to anonymize yourself.”
“There is something terrifying but also fascinating about contemplating the end of humanity,” and on Oct. 25th our own Edan Lepucki and Emily St. John Mandel (whose novel Station Eleven was just shortlisted for the National Book Award) will be discussing their recent apocalyptic fictions at the Texas Book Festival.
The University of Texas, Austin, is opening its acquired manuscripts of David Foster Wallace’s private papers, books, stories, and essays to the public. Previews of Wallace’s marked-up copies of books by DeLillo, Borges, and Updike are available on its website. (via New York Times)
In case you missed it: Google bought Frommer’s last August. Then in April, Google announced that it would stop printing hard-copy guidebooks, so founder Arthur Frommer bought his company back. All of this has led Doug Mack to argue that not only do we need guidebooks, but they should be part of the literary canon. “They also stand out for shaping history, if not always intentionally, because of their authoritative reputation—they have long been the best insight into that which would be otherwise unknown.”