What’s the one question you should never ask a writer starting a new book: how’s the writing going? “Nothing can damage a novel in embryo as quickly and effectively as trying to describe it before it’s ready,” Mark Slouka writes. Follow his advice for how to keep your writer friends.
“We can work harder to mourn, get better at it, connect it better to how we live, how we care for people, how we educate people. It’s politics, for me.” ZYZZYVA interviews Max Porter about his Grief Is the Thing with Feathers. Pair with Lidia Yuknavitch’s Millions essay on grief and art.
J. M. Coetzee has published The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy with psychologist Arabella Kurtz, which details the five-year correspondence between the two. The letters offer “a rare opportunity to understand the mind of a writer who almost never speaks at length in his own voice.” For more of the Nobel laureate, read our review of The Childhood of Jesus.
“If the history of the American sentence were a John Ford movie, its second act would conclude with the young Ernest [Hemingway] walking into a saloon, finding an etiolated Henry James slumped at the bar in a haze of indecision, and shooting him dead.” Adam Haslett takes on Stanley Fish, Strunk & White, and the art of writing a sentence.
Eleanor Catton just became the youngest person ever to win a Man Booker, but we were fans of her long before. Our own Emily St. John Mandel included Catton’s debut novel The Rehearsal on her list of disorienting reads. Paul Murray also recommended the book on his 2012 Year in Reading.
The Toronto Public Library is running an innovative program wherein, in addition to books and other types of media you might expect, you can also check out people; specifically, this Human Library gives you access to folks with an interesting job or story to tell, like a journalist, a Buddhist monk and a cancer survivor.
With the help of the folks at Ploughshares and Medium, Year in Reading alumna Megan Mayhew Bergman is publishing a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure literary short story. To participate, read the first chapter (as well as the introduction) online, then tweet Bergman to tell her where the story should go from there.