Karen Russell is everywhere these days. She’s sharing her favorite books about Florida with The New York Times, she’s being interviewed about her writing process on our site, and she’s publishing short fiction for Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading blog. Oh, and she has a new book out, too, as you might have heard.
“But every time I sat down in my desk, my heart raced. I forgot the words, my sentences sounded wordy, unnecessary, ugly.” Our own Bruna Dantas Lobato writes about anxiety and writer’s block for Ploughshares. Pair with her Staff Pick for The Millions, Juan Goytisolo’s Count Julian.
“The notion that American literature might have an imperial bent—that it might be anything other than a string of lightly co-influential works of ‘imaginative power,’ and might itself reflect our national desire to dominate—is lost on its critics, both right and left.” Jonathan Sturgeon in The Baffler on American exceptionalism and “the imperial self” in fiction, with particular attention paid to the work of two other Jonathans, Franzen and Safran Foer.
Recommended Reading: The New York Times’s feature on Dana Spiotta. “When Dana Spiotta was working on her fourth novel, Innocents and Others, she sat beneath a huge bulletin board pinned with her sticky notes and research materials: lists of relevant words (passion, transformation, intimacy) and ‘seeing’ devices (zoetrope, stereoscope, camera obscura), and photographs of Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard and the Maysles brothers. ‘It’s like walking into the book,’ Spiotta told me. ‘You feel it all around you.’” To prepare for her upcoming release, revisit our review of Stone Arabia.
For those in New York City this week, Goodreads is hosting a literary pub crawl around lower Manhattan this Thursday night starting at 7 p.m. Millions contributor Emily St. John Mandel will be joined by fellow authors Colson Whitehead and Amy King for a reading at Housing Works. After that, the group will decamp for Botanica and Tom & Jerry’s before finishing the evening at KGB Bar. The event is free (though the booze will cost you).
As has been much noted elsewhere, the Wall Street Journal landed reclusive Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson to review a recent bio of Peanuts creator Charles Schulz. New York explains how the review was arranged. Meanwhile, the New Yorker has John Updike reviewing the book.BLDGBLOG articulates why I love LA so much (and why it is quite possibly the greatest city in the country). For some of my own thoughts on LA, harken back into the deepest archives.Since almost the minute I finished An Army at Dawn, the first installment of Rick Atkinson’s three-part look at the liberation of Europe during World War II, I have been pining for the second book. And now I have it. The Day of Battle covers the war in Sicily and Italy and I will be reading it presently. (It was An Army at Dawn that inspired our lists of World War II fiction and nonfiction.)My alma mater is showing Google Books some love.
Just before he died earlier this year, Nobel winner Günter Grass completed his last manuscript, Vonne Endlichkait, “a literary experiment” that combines prose, poetry, and illustration. The book has just been published in German and will be available in English next year.