When our own Mark O’Connell reviewed Edouard Levé’s Autoportrait, he wrote that the book compels you to keep reading because “the more Levé says, the more facts he sets down, the more you realize he hasn’t said.” But what if at the end, you’re meant to reread the book, too? Over at Words Without Borders, Jan Steyn says “the only way to get a better idea of how [these sentences] fit together is to keep reading, and reading, until the end, and then perhaps to read the book again.”
Authors are known to mine material from their personal relationships for their writing, but John Updike found inspiration from his interviews. After journalist William Ecenbarger wrote a profile of Updike in 1983, he found himself the subject of an Updike short story. Pair with: Our review of Updike’s Collected Stories.
Year in Reading contributor Kevin Smokler’s new essay collection, Practical Classics, explores the benefits of revisiting the first books you read (even if you hated them). In fact, the difficult and excruciating books have a particular value. “Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends,” says Smokler in a new Rumpus interview. “Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.”