Object narrative (n): a story told through meditations on various physical objects. Examples include Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes; Neil MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects; and Paula Byrne’s The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things.
“I’m a total database nerd. In college I worked as a troubleshooter for a database of medical research, trying to predict and prevent mistakes in the data entry process to avoid screwing up the records. Is anything more satisfying than a successfully written query delivering precisely the required results? It’s so much more direct than writing fiction. A query either works or it doesn’t.” Steve Himmer’s Nervous Breakdown self-interview.
In the Atlantic‘s annual fiction supplement, Joyce Carol Oates writes about the loss of her husband of 48 years and the split identity of the well-known writer: “My job at the university is to impersonate ‘Joyce Carol Oates’ […] this quasi-public self […] is scarcely visible to me, as a mirror-reflection, seen up close, is scarcely visible to the viewer.”
Ursula K. Le Guin has died at the age of 88, according to the New York Times and Le Guin’s family. The prolific science fiction and fantasy writer — best known for her Earthsea series and The Left Hand of Darkness — explored themes like politics, gender, religion, and environmentalism. However, Le Guin wrote across genre and published over 20 novels, 100 short stories, 7 essay collections, 13 children’s books, 5 volumes of translation, and a writer’s guide. No stranger to awards, Le Guin most recently won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Related Work for Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016. From our archives: The Millions interview with Le Guin from 2013.
Year in Reading alum Helen Oyeyemi has a new novel on shelves this week, as does New Yorker 20 Under 40 honoree Dinaw Mengestu. Also out: Mount Terminus by David Grand; Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley; Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun and Beauty by Frederick Dillen.