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.”
New this week: Craig Thompson’s long-awated follow up to Blankets is here. Stay tuned for our review of Habibi later this week. Also new: Neal Stephenson’s Reamde, Aravind Adiga’s Last Man in Tower, Joe McGinniss’s much leaked exposé The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin, and a new, posthumous collection of Shel Silverstein’s poetry and drawings, Every Thing On It.
At The Morning News, Ben Shattuck explores the similarities between paintings and fiction writing. He explains that pictures convey emotion the way stories convey plot, through composition. Pair with this Millions essay on learning about a book from paintings.
Ted Thompson, whose novel The Land of Steady Habits was released earlier this year, writes for Salon about his experience publishing his first book. Pair with this conversation between our own Bill Morris and Edan Lepucki, who both have novels coming out this month.
“Here’s a challenge for you: find a book jacket that features an image of a woman over 40.” Despite being one of the biggest consumers of books, The Guardian writes about the lack of middle-aged women on book jackets. Pair with: an essay on the sexy-backed, faceless-woman book cover trend.
A couple months ago, I linked to a new Granta series in which authors select one of their own first sentences and recall how they came to it. This week, Patrick French explains the first sentence of a nonfiction piece titled “After the War” (available in Granta 125) by digging up an old photograph that shows how the Edwardian English were “stitched and machined into a grid of expectations.”