Craig Fehrman reviews Keith O’Brien’s Outside Shot, a book which follows the 2009-10 boys’ basketball team at Scott County High School in Georgetown, Kentucky. O’Brien’s book is much in the mold of Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights, writes Fehrman, in that it’s concerned with a “troubled town, precarious season, political resonance” – but it’s also a book that falters under the legacy of its predecessor.
When did Samuel Beckett's "fail better" become the motto of Silicon Valley? At Slate, our own Mark O'Connell traces the history of the phrase. "Fail Better, with its TEDishly counterintuitive feel, is the literary takeaway par excellence; it’s usefully suggestive, too, of the corporate propaganda of productivity, with its appeals to 'think different' or 'work smarter' or 'just do it.'"
"In creative writing, I teach that characters arise out of our need for them. By now, the person I created in New York was the only one I wanted to be. ...Eight years after reaching the end of myself, I was on borrowed time. Whether it was in a plane or a coffin, I knew I had to get out of Jamaica." Marlon James, author of The Book of Night Women, which once gave me so much trouble, and whose novel A Brief History of Seven Killings the Book Report covered here, writes for the New York Times Magazine about leaving Jamaica to find himself in Minnesota.
"Hill had maintained a daily writing routine since age 13, completing four or five books as a teen and four more as an adult, and was now, at the cusp of 35, finally putting out a novel—a ghost story." GQ profiles Joe Hill about his writing, being the son of Stephen King, and finding success in his own right. From our archives: our own editor Lydia Kiesling's essay on King, nostalgia, and America.
Back in 1988, Tad Williams published the first book of the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series, which inspired George R.R. Martin to start writing A Song of Ice and Fire. Now, more than twenty years after publishing the last installment (and just as the new season of Game of Thrones begins), Williams announced that he’s writing a sequel, The Last King of Osten Ard. You could also read our own Janet Potter’s review of the first Game of Thrones book.
Yesterday I told you about a ridiculously rare signed copy of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, a poem famously loaded with coldness and sterility and failed human intimacy. Later this month, some new letters will be published that reveal the depth of Eliot's mental anguish over the breakdown of his first marriage with his wife, Vivien. Eliot has long been accused (maybe fairly) of treating Vivien with intolerable cruelty and attributing to her mental state, and these letters aim to complicate that narrative.