Gary Indiana posits that “no current literary label appealingly describes the kind of narratives [Renata Adler’s] Speedboat and Pitch Dark are.” This might be true. However in the name of moving forward with discussion, perhaps we can all go with Matthew Spektor’s summation of Adler’s debut novel: “if it’s ‘like’ anything at all, a steeplechase of [dazzling] hurdles could be it.”
The annual Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference wrapped up earlier this week, but, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can relive the magic: Transcripts and videos of notable speeches are available on the conference’s website, including the concluding talk on the future of the novel by China Mieville.
In 1952, John Steinbeck wrote that Al Capp, the cartoonist and Lil’ Abner creator, might well have been the best writer working in the world at the time. In the Times, Andy Webster reviews a new biography of Capp, which reveals that underneath it all lay “a toxic chip on his shoulder.”
Both Ed and the Washington Post interview Tobias Wolff on the occasion of the release of his new collection, Our Story Begins.Bookride chronicles some of the most unlikely and amazing discoveries in the history of book collecting. In part one, he discusses many runners-up – including “An incredible collection of modern first editions, mostly fine in jackets turned up in the 1980s in a shed in the Australian desert causing dealers to fly in from New York, Berkeley and Santa Barbara.” Part two covers the greatest find. It begins “In 1907, during his second expedition to Chinese Central Asia, Sir Aurel Stein, a Hungarian-born British archaeologist, encountered a monk who showed him a hoard of manuscripts preserved in a cave near Dunhuang.”In BOMB, Zachary Lazar and Christopher Sorrentino discuss Lazar’s book Sway. Lazar appeared in our Year in Reading.You may have to wait ten years for the rest of it, but Junot Diaz gives readers a sneak peak at his next novel at Omnivoracious.Baseball predictions, highly personalized.J.K. Rowling, now retired from writing about a boy wizard, has embarked on the next step of her career, protecting her legacy. First up is a lawsuit against a companion book written by a superfan librarian. But, as the Times seems to indicate with its account of the trial, that way madness lies: “The librarian, Steven Jan Vander Ark, had the mild-mannered demeanor of Ron Weasley, and the intelligence, charm – and haircut – of Harry Potter. Even his name sounds like that of a character in one of the books, if preceded by “Lord” or “Master.” Although, at 50, he is older than Ms. Rowling, 42, he looked like a schoolboy, with an unlined face and caramel-colored hair parted down the middle.”
Forgive us for being slow on the uptake, Colorado residents, but this is the first I’m hearing of Aspen Public Radio’s First Draft radio show, which features interviews with numerous authors of wide acclaim. A casual glance at the show’s online archives, for instance, turns up the likes of Paul Harding, Kevin Barry, Laura van den Berg, Edwidge Danticat, and Ben Fountain. (h/t Edan Lepucki)
The Facebook IPO was this week’s biggest story. The social media giant, which boasts 800 million members, is seeking a $75-$100 billion market valuation. But hold your horses, investors. A lot of that optimism could be empty hype. After all, look at the site’s requested valuation as a percentage of its 2011 revenue, and compare it to other tech giants like Google and Microsoft. Also, contrary to Mark Zuckerberg’s claim, most of the world does not, in fact, “have access to the internet or mobile phones.”
As they begin preparation work on “Vacancies,” a special double-issue of their magazine, the folks at Heavy Feather Review have issued a call for writing that explores “the dimly lit corners of the unoccupied, unassuming, or idle.” For inspiration, look toward Philip Levine’s poem, “An Abandoned Factory, Detroit.”