Novels written by accomplished writers about failed artists are nothing new. What is new is seeing a once-successful novel about a failed artist — one that’s been out-of-print for twenty years — get a burst of renewed attention.
The New York Times dives into why prisons fear the New Jim Crow certain states have gone to great efforts to allow their prisons to ban it and in other states it's fairly difficult to obtain if you're a prisoner. We're big fans of the New Jim Crow here; it was a Millions staff pick and extremely popular on Year in Reading lists back in 2013.
"I slumped into an empty corner opposite Say Goodbye, Cattullus and wept into my knees for a half hour." Catherine Lacey writes for The Paris Review's "Revisited" series, "in which writers look back on a work of art they first encountered long ago." Pair with our own Bill Morris's consideration of artists whose works channel writers.
All of us have particular words that we use a little too often. Writers tend to be embarrassed about their predilections for certain turns of phrase. At Slate, Matthew J.X. Malady reacts to the news that he uses iteration too much, and delves into the ways our verbal habits spread to others.
Though everyone is tired of the online critics are too nice/ do critics even matter debate cropping up everywhere as of late, Daniel Mendelsohn's "Critic's Manifesto" may be the best thing to come out of the conversation yet: a clear formulation of what it means to be a critic and why that matters.
In his 2015 Year in Reading, Garth Risk Hallberg told us about Max Porter's Grief Is The Thing With Feathers, a quasi-poem/novel/memoir which "you will quickly forget is weird as hell, because it is also beautiful as hell, moving as hell, and funny as hell." Though the book isn't slated for stateside release for another few months, there is a fantastic review over at the London Review of Books that's well worth the read.
The eagle-eyed Scott Esposito alerts us to a forthcoming 900-page collection of short stories by Stephen Dixon. One hopes Fantagraphics has beefed up its copy-editing department since its last fictional behemoth, Alexander Theroux's Laura Warholic.