“Mr. [Mark] O’Connell is an intelligent and very funny writer,” says Barton Swaim in The Wall Street Journal. “But Epic Fail will also prompt you to consider how shallow—and ugly—humans can be.” (Bonus: a reference to getting pitted, just so pitted.)
“An artist you love occupies a weird in-between place, where they’re somehow a little more than a father, but a little less than a neighbour. They can permanently re-organize your consciousness but they can’t sell you a Coke. You feel you know them more than anyone you actually know, which means that you don’t really know a damn thing. I feel I know Elliott Smith, but if I picture him in front of me, I find myself picturing a tiny figurine, or Mount Rushmore.” Sasha Chapin has written an intensely personal essay about Elliott Smith for Hazlitt. Here is The Millions’ own Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.
The 2017 Whiting Award winners were announced tonight at a ceremony in Manhattan, and this year’s list of ten honorees includes Francisco Cantú (The Line Becomes a River), Simone Wright (Of Being Dispersed), Phillip B. Williams (Thief in the Interior), Kaitlyn Greenidge (We Love You, Charlie Freeman), Tony Tulathimutte (Private Citizens), Jen Beagin (Pretend I’m Dead), and Lisa Halliday (Asymmetry) as well as playwrights Clarence Coo, James Ijames, and Clare Barron. The award, which recognizes early-career writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama, comes with a $50,000 prize. Excerpts from each writer’s work can be read at The Paris Review.
This week, Richard Ford published his first novel in a while to feature Frank Bascombe, the protagonist of his Pulitzer-winning book The Sportswriter. At Salon, our own Lydia Kiesling posits a through-line from Bascombe to a certain TV gangster, arguing that The Sopranos shares its view of manhood with Ford’s novels. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on Ford’s 2012 book, Canada.
“In your earlier novels you sounded so optimistic, but now your books are tinged with despair. Is this fair to say?” Zadie Smith‘s remarks upon accepting the 2016 Welt Literature Prize on November 10th, and the question of whether “multiculturalism” is a failed experiment. Read our review of Smith’s latest novel, Swing Time, here.