Matt Seidel has a helpful guide for book clubs across the country: How To Tell If Someone In Your Book Club Is a Homicidal Maniac. One possible clue? He contributes to the Water for Elephants discussion by “telling anecdotes about torturing animals as a child.”
Happy Freedom Day: The work at the center of all the reviews, magazine covers, and even, of course, controversy, has arrived. Jonathan Franzen’s long-awaited novel Freedom hits shelves today. Our review. Also out today is Booker longlister Skippy Dies by Paul Murray. Another newly translated Roberto Bolaño is out, The Insufferable Gaucho. As is You Were Wrong by Jamestown author Matthew Sharpe. Finally, fashion fans will dig vintage Japanese prepster handbook Take Ivy.
“Writing difference is a challenge, particularly in fiction. How do men write women and vice versa? How do writers of one race or ethnicity write about people of another race or ethnicity? More important, how do writers tackle difference without reducing their characters to caricatures or stereotypes?” Roxane Gay reviews Joyce Carol Oates‘s The Sacrifice and simultaneously explains how to write difference well. Hint: it “demands empathy, an ability to respect the humanity of those you mean to represent.”
Last year, Netherland author Joseph O’Neill helped open the Maya School, a school for Syrian refugee children in Turkey. Now he’s asking for donations of additional funds to keep the school operational. “We have set up a transparent and cost-effective partnership with Turkish counterparts of great integrity and knowhow,” O’Neill writes. “Of the $16,000 we raised last year, $3000 still remains. That tells you how far your dollars will go.”
Why would anyone write a book anonymously? Maria Bustillos ponders anonymity at The New Yorker. “Anonymous is more than a pseudonym. It is a stark declaration of intent: a wall explicitly thrown up, not only between writer and reader, but between the writer’s work and his life.”
A translation guide to writing workshops that we’re definitely printing out and bringing along to our next one. “Sometimes when people say ‘show, don’t tell,’ what they mean is that they find the characters sympathetic, the story is moving forward, and they even like the conflict, but they just don’t like the way you wrote it. What they’d really like to do is steal the idea and write it themselves, because honestly, they would do a much better job.”
“As a literary symbol portraying man’s tragic nature, is any more compelling than a gun? A gun lets fear become death, quiet desperation become brutality whose fallout others are forced to deal with.” Over at The Literary Hub, a list of 10 novels that follow Chekhov‘s famous dictum, literally. Might we also suggest our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s The Singer’s Gun?