As our own Nick Moran reported two weeks ago, Alice Munro has decided to retire from writing. Herewith, a timely profile of the author, courtesy of the Times. (You could also read Ben Dolnick on her last book of stories, Dear Life.)
“Every journal is a confessional. If it’s in the first person, it cannot help but be. Unless the author of it lies to himself—and that makes it even more of a confessional. For some reason, travel brings out confessions one would never make at home. I am trying to draw the rake of my journal over the landscape. Perhaps I will uncover something.” Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s new collection of travel journals, Writing Across the Landscape, is out now. Travel on back to The Millions for Kate McCahill’s essay on traveling with books.
“That no-way-out is really the difference between boys and girls in working-class culture, because a working-class boy could run, or could when I was growing up.” Guernica interviews Dorothy Allison about literature as glory; survival, opportunity, and gender; and working-class heroes vs. heroines. For your reading consideration: Bill Morris‘s essay on the riches of “white trash” literature.
“Set in the 2020s and 2030s in a collapsing and crashed America, the Parables books have always seemed incredibly and disturbingly prescient—and in the wake of November 8, 2016 they now seem downright spooky, the actual and accurate history of the future.” How Octavia Butler predicted the present. See also: our consideration of Butler’s novel Kindred.
Jonathan Raban intersperses biographical information about William Gaddis in order to give the correspondence collected in his recently published Letters greater context. There are ample details about the author’s travels in his young adulthood, his artistic frustrations over the publication of The Recognitions, and, of course, many details about the women in Gaddis’s life. “In letters to his mother,” Raban writes, “Gaddis liked to depict himself as someone repeatedly smitten by beautiful women.” (Bonus: “The Letters of William Gaddis contains five letters addressed to me.”
You’ll have to read this Curiosity to believe it! The surprise bestselling Time-Life series was wildly popular in the late 80s–but why? The answer is a bit less mysterious than one might have hoped. As a consolation, here’s a related essay from The Millions on conspiracy literature.