Most of our internet browsing results in wasted time and too many cat videos, but Nora Crook stumbled upon Mary Shelley’s unpublished letters while researching an obscure 19th-century novelist. In the letters, which range from 1831-49, Shelley fawns over her son and even discusses a 3 a.m. trip to her hairdresser when she got a ticket to the coronation of William IV in 1831. The letters will be published soon in The Keats-Shelley Journal.
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”
At Bloom this week, check out the feature on novelist Jon Clinch, and the accompanying Q&A, where Clinch talks in-depth about his decision to self-publish his fourth novel after having his first two published by Random House. He says that his second novel, Kings of the Earth, “was set up for success: Oprah’s magazine put it at the top of their summer reading list, and it went on to be named one of the best novels of the year by theWashington Post. But the Oprah nod came six or eight weeks before publication date, and Random House either couldn’t or didn’t capitalize on it. By the time the book hit the shelves, it was already forgotten. I simply couldn’t bear the possibility that The Thief of Auschwitz might slip into the abyss.”
Recommended Reading: On Patricia Highsmith, Carol, and being the queer daughter of a queer mother: “I am doomed to die an ugly death or at least to be separated from my partner, probably violently. So is my queer mother and my partner and my cousin and many of my friends. We are all doomed, it seems, because this is the only story American media tells about queer women.”
There’s been a lot of digital ink spilled about the traumas lurking in the comment section. It’s almost a rite of passage to get abused for something you write. But there’s another kind of trauma — what happens when you get no comments at all? At The Rumpus, Rachel Newcombe writes about a new kind of emptiness.