You can treat yourself to The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg for the low price of $2.99. As readers of the book will find out: it’s hard to resist treats…
Good news! According to Vinson Cunningham’s new essay in The New Yorker, beauty merely “masks and perfumes … it freezes moral categories in place,” whereas ugliness, on the other hand, “is sometimes the closest thing to the truth.” Wait, is that good news? Bonus: Vinson wrote a Year in Reading piece for us.
“Seidel scared himself with poetry, and us too. How had he done it?” John Jeremiah Sullivan presented the Hadada Award to Frederick Seidel at The Paris Review’s Spring Revel last month. You can read the full text of his speech and three of Seidel’s poems. This seems to be a much better week for Sullivan because he also just won the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for his essay “I Placed a Jar in Tennessee.”
“Once [Jenny] Diski did get going as a writer, she and [Doris] Lessing agreed to a kind of literary nonaggression pact: Lessing would not write about Diski if Diski would not write about Lessing. Even now, I sensed a note of anxiety in Diski’s attitude toward her current project. When I asked her if she had any titles in mind for the finished work, she said: ‘Gratitude.’ Or: ‘Ingratitude.’ I can’t decide which.’”
In a piece for Public Books Rebecca Steinitz reviews some recent historical novels, including The Luminaries and The Invention of Wings, and argues that the best historical fiction “plunges the reader wholly into the past, enlightening and entertaining us, while also making us reflect on our present, in history and in literature.” Pair her piece with Laila Lalami‘s account of “How History Becomes Story.”
The Millions is delighted to welcome new staff writer Marie Myung-Ok Lee, whose first piece for the site publishes today. Marie is the author of Somebody’s Daughter and a novel about medicine forthcoming from Simon and Schuster. You may have seen Marie’s excellent writing in The Atlantic, The New York Times, and many other venues. She teaches fiction at Columbia.