How do you describe the life and times of John Horne Burns? He was in turn a military intelligence officer, a schoolteacher, a critical darling after he published The Gallery, a pariah after he published anything else, and a gay man in post-WWII America. In characteristic concision, Ernest Hemingway summed the whole thing up thusly: “There was a fellow who wrote a fine book and then a stinking book about a prep school, and then he just blew himself up.”
Recommended Reading: In her new memoir, Joyce Carol Oates praises Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass as “the singular book that changed my life – that made me yearn to be a writer.”
"The Laughing Monsters is, ultimately, about reality, myth, and outright lies. Johnson has always been interested in those moments when the thin skin of the world breaks and we are ushered, unprepared, into another realm." Stav Sherez reviews Denis Johnson's The Laughing Monsters (which we listed in our Second-Half 2014 book preview) and considers the modern spy thriller for the Los Angeles Review of Books.
This may be a temporary thing, but David Foster Wallace's posthumously published novel The Pale King appears to be shipping now from Amazon, more than two weeks ahead of the official tax day publication date. Update: From the official Pale King Facebook page: the book "doesn't have a one day laydown: stores can sell it as soon as it's in their shop." So looks like the book is now available everywhere. Do you have your copy yet?
"I don’t know how to give more of myself than a poem. Every poem I write is more accurate than anything I can ever tweet about it: my interior life, and its struggle and desire to converse with the exterior world." Tarfia Faizullah writes for Poetry's blog about why she doesn't want to explain her poems, the power of breath, and the frustrating implications of the question, "did it happen to you?"