Chances are you’ve heard that in a recent interview, Claire Messud responded to a patronizing question about one of her characters — “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you?” — by giving her interviewer a smackdown that resonated across the blogosphere. At Page-Turner, several authors (including Rivka Galchen, Jonathan Franzen and Year in Reading alumna Margaret Atwood) offer their own takes on the matter of “likeability.” (There’s also this piece by our own Emily St. John Mandel to consider.)
Out this week: Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang; Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta; The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet; New People by Danzy Senna; Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah; and White Plains by Gordon Lish. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
The fiftieth anniversary of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is coming up on October 13th, so to get ready, pour yourself a drink (or five), don your best academic tweeds, and read these interviews with playwright Edward Albee and audience members who attended the play’s original 1962 run.
“I asked myself – why don’t I state the race of my characters? And am I doing something wrong by not explicitly including a diverse cast of characters? Could I be doing something better? The short answer is yes.” An argument in favor of race bent fanfiction and resisting assumedly white characters from The Missouri Review blog.
“Language on a daily basis is being recycled. Our students are learning the language of the old and new masters; they are taking them in, mixing their words with the language they know, creating something new. Yet something there remains. Something familiar. Something like a forgotten first kiss. Like a well-known song sung in a different language.” Ira Sukrungruang on “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Deep Reading and Mimicry, With an Ending that Totally Plagiarizes Wallace Stevens.” After all, who doesn’t want to plagiarize Wallace Stevens?
“What is missing from Testimony is the customary idealistic hero, the one last encountered in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass who doesn’t avert his eyes from suffering and sordidness, but who nevertheless is full of hope for a better future. Testimony is a corrective, an anti-epic.” Charles Simić recounts Charles Reznikoff’s long poem Testimony: The United States (1885-1915): Recitative in the NYRB.