There are plenty of new books to this week to fill that post-election void: Both Flesh and Not: Essays, a posthumously published collection from David Foster Wallace; Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior; Prosperous Friends by Christine Schutt; Magnificence by Lydia Millet; and These Things Happen, a debut by longtime TV writer Richard Kramer. From the indies, we have The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets by Diana Wagman and Keyhole Factory by William Gillespie. Also out are Philip Pullman’s new version of Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm; Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks; and a big new Michael Jackson biography by a former Rolling Stone editor.
“At bottom, the argument about copyright is not really a philosophical argument. It’s a battle between interest groups.” Louis Menand writes about American copyright law in the digital age for The New Yorker, and his essay pairs well with the many articles on copyright we’ve published over the years.
“I was being paranoid, but those of us who write memoirs should never underestimate the damage they can cause. I’ve seen close relationships rocked by a memoir. I’ve seen parents stop speaking to their children for years. Memoirs pose a natural threat to the family mythology, those portraits framed on the mantel piece that say everyone is happy and nothing is wrong.” Sarah Hepola asks her mother and father what it felt like to be portrayed in her memoir, Blackout.
Longtime writers know how hard it can be to tell when a piece is finished. Tolstoy famously tried to revise War and Peace right up to the book’s publication. At the Ploughshares blog, Amy Jo Burns offers tips for evaluating a piece before deciding to give it to someone else.