NYRB Classics just reissued Russell Hoban’s Turtle Diary, and in honor of that occasion Levi Stahl is giving away a free copy. All you have to do is write “the best turtle story” in his comments section before June 20th. Are you up to the task?
"I don’t think writing the truth makes you strong by default. I think it makes you vulnerable, which in turn can make you strong." Amy Jo Burns writes for Ploughshares about the difficulties of "Writing About Other People" and the upcoming publication of her debut memoir, Cinderland.
Do our brains determine how we write? Joyce Dyer explores the possibility that genre is influenced by how our brains are wired but wonders if that limits us. "The page may be forcing compromises that the brain, in such close relationship with the mind, must rightly refuse," she writes.
"Kill ‘Em and Leave is [James] McBride’s own testament to [James] Brown’s philosophy. It’s a stunningly unorthodox book, indifferent to the conventions of biographical nonfiction ... The book is a hybrid of forms, largely a telling of Brown’s life story and partly a telling of McBride’s search for that story, with digressions about the author’s own life, essayistic ruminations on Brown and his music, and free, looping riffs that have the energy of improvisation." On James McBride's unusual, unorthodox biography of the unusual, unorthodox James Brown.
In a piece for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Sarah Mesle reviews Mallory Ortberg's Texts from Jane Eyre, which "is not only a major work of bathroom humor reading, but also a significant contribution to feminist literary criticism. It is difficult to imagine another book that would both be a perfect stocking stuffer and an exemplary text for a seminar in literary studies."
“In your earlier novels you sounded so optimistic, but now your books are tinged with despair. Is this fair to say?” Zadie Smith's remarks upon accepting the 2016 Welt Literature Prize on November 10th, and the question of whether "multiculturalism" is a failed experiment. Read our review of Smith's latest novel, Swing Time, here.