The word “whom” appears “just 53 times out of every million [spoken] words,” according to the Corpus of Contemporary American English. This does not bode well for members of future generations – some of whom may be fond of formality.
New this week is Monica Ali’s “what if” novel about Princess Diana, Untold Story. Also out is Bright’s Passage, an effort, which readers appear to be taking seriously, by singer-songwriter Josh Ritter to cross over into literary fiction. Finally, short story master Bobbie Ann Mason has a new novel out, The Girl in the Blue Beret.
I really dug this write up of a visit by Edward P. Jones to a Seattle high school, where he talked to some kids about being a writer. I’m fascinated by Jones’ persona. He’s not a hermit, but neither is he a part of the more public contemporary literary crowd, all of whom seem to be associated with the same causes and who enjoy this sort of literary pseudo-fame while at the same time making a bit of a show about shying away from it. Of course I’m overgeneralizing here, but I’m sure you can think of some writers who might fit that description. I suppose my larger point is Jones seems to me to be a writer who, in an earlier time, would have only achieved fame late in his career or even posthumously, and I’m just really glad that he has gotten the acclaim that he deserves.I saw the movie Fever Pitch last night and enjoyed the way last year’s baseball season was woven into the story so well. It also made me very curious to read Nick Hornby’s novel by the same name, in which the protagonist is a rabid soccer fan. I’m not a big Hornby fan, but I’m very curious to see if they managed to swap out the sport at the center of the story while keeping the same overall feeling. Quite a feat if they managed to do a good job of it. One thing is clear though, trying to slap a movie tie-in cover on Hornby’s book wouldn’t have worked very well.Rodger Jacobs has set up a blog to track entries in his “Fitzgerald in Hollywood Short Fiction Contest.”Chicagoist looks at books “with local ties.” I’ve read All This Heavenly Glory and Gods in Alabama, but the third book The Week You Weren’t Here by Charles Blackstone sounds interesting.
“Save everything, she said. Everything. When your archive gets bought, they pay by the cubic foot.” Sarah Manguso in The New York Times about drafts in an era of digital writing. And while we’re on the subject , here’s what Ben Fountain, Emily St. John Mandel, Emma Straub and a passel of other writers have to say about writing that elusive first draft.
Perhaps best known for her fiction, specifically her classic The Group, Mary McCarthy became a novelist almost by chance. “McCarthy was good at recycling – a term which she used herself – and good, also, as she admitted, at plagiarizing her own life. Nevertheless, her fiction lives, and some of it has been highly influential.” Margaret Drabble takes us through McCarthy’s major works of fiction, featured in Mary McCarthy: The Complete Fiction which was released this year in a deluxe collection for the very first time.
It’s a big week for fans of literary fiction, with new books by a pair of heavyweights: Generosity by Richard Powers and Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. There’s also a new (and massive) collection of stories from Lydia Davis. Nick Horby’s newest, Juliet, Naked is out. Finally, Bukowski fans may be pleased to find a new book of never-before-collected poems, and R. Crumb fans have no doubt been waiting for his Book of Genesis to hit shelves.