Even though James McBride (new National Book Award winner for The Good Lord Bird) is an accomplished jazz musician, he doesn't listen to any music while writing. "Because I’m a musician, listening to music is…it’s a bit like work for me," he told The Daily Beast for the "How I Write" series.
Writer James Salter died on Friday. We interviewed him in 2012 and he reflected on memory and on his long life as a writer. He said, "Everything you know, nobody else knows, and everything you imagine or see belongs to you alone. What you write comes out of that, both in the trivial and deepest sense." Prior to that, in 2010, Sonya Chung wrote about Salter's legacy and how he finally seemed to be getting his due as more than just "a writer's writer."
The finalists for the John Leonard Prize — for a first book in any genre — were announced by the National Book Critics Circle. This year's finalists are Lesley Nneka Arimah's What It Means When a Man Falls from the Sky, Julie Buntin's Marlena, Zinzi Clemmons' What We Lose, Layli Long Soldier's Whereas, Carmen Maria Machado's Her Body and Other Parties, and Gabriel Tallent's My Absolute Darling. The winner will be announced in January. Pair with: Buntin's 2017 Year in Reading entry.
“For Germany, the Wagners are what the Atreidai are in Greek mythology. One of them, Atreus, committed a grave sin, casting a curse over all subsequent generations, beginning with Agamemnon and Menelaus, followed by Iphigenia, Orestes and Electra. The family is marked by enmity, as is the Wagner family.” On a certain influential composer.
Alexandra Alter interviews National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates about the success of Between the World and Me. As he puts it, "The best part of writing is really to educate yourself. I don’t want to be anybody’s expert. I came in to learn." Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s Millions piece on Coates’s epistolary essay.