We’ve already decided that it’s okay for fictional characters to be unlikable, but what about nonfiction writers? At the VQR blog, Jennifer Niesslein interviews essayists on whether their success is based on how amiable they are. “I think it’s ridiculous to expect to like someone who wrote a book you love, but the increasing visibility of writers on social media—who are expected to be the ambassadors of their books—amps up the pressure to be well-liked,” Cheryl Strayed said.
The Omnivore has announced the shortlist for its the Hatchet Job of the Year Award, honoring "the author of the angriest, funniest, most trenchant book review of the past twelve months." Worthy candidates all, though we note that our review, written by Holloway McCandless, of Michael Cunningham's By Nightfall is perhaps even more trenchant than (and was published over a month before) Adam Mars-Jones' shortlisted review, which, like ours, found Cunningham's endless references to the literary canon tiresome.
Carl Wilson, author of Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the end of Taste (a book length study of Celine Dion's megablockbusting album of the same name), revisits the enduring and sort of nauseating classic from Titanic's soundtrack in The Atlantic.
"An easel stood just inside the big glass doorway when I entered the store. On it leaned my author photo, the one from the back cover of Domestic Violets, and it was fucking enormous. It was the size of a photo you’d expect to see if Bono had been appearing at Barnes & Noble, Bill Clinton maybe, or perhaps the Reverend Desmund Tutu. For a full 30 seconds I stood there and looked at the gigantic, painstakingly airbrushed picture of myself. An elderly couple walked in and did a double take when they saw a stunned-looking me looking at me. 'It’s too big,' I told them." This is what you do when no one shows up to your reading.
The New York Times Book Review commissioned a work of fiction about the election from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She chose to write about Melania Trump. If you can handle more Trump, check out Greg Chase’s portrait of a Trump supporter, based on Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury.
The mystery of the skull that might once have sat between the shoulders of one William Shakespeare will remain unresolved for now. A senior church lawyer for St. Leonard’s Church in Beoley, Redditch, has barred the group of curious clergymen from removing the skull for DNA testing. Alas, poor William.