Our own Michael Bourne takes a look at Thomas King’s Inconvenient Indian, which struggled to find a publisher in the United States despite flying off the shelves in Canada. “The curious publication history of [the book],” Bourne writes, “serves as a window into the wide differences in the way mainstream Americans and Canadians view the Native peoples in their midst.”
“Mr. Fogg assured us he would touch down at our place at precisely 8:45 in the evening. Imagine our delight when he not only arrived with all the punctuality befitting an Englishman, but also quite literally touched down! In a hot air balloon!” Introducing literary couchsurfing.
"Writing difference is a challenge, particularly in fiction. How do men write women and vice versa? How do writers of one race or ethnicity write about people of another race or ethnicity? More important, how do writers tackle difference without reducing their characters to caricatures or stereotypes?" Roxane Gay reviews Joyce Carol Oates's The Sacrifice and simultaneously explains how to write difference well. Hint: it "demands empathy, an ability to respect the humanity of those you mean to represent."
Recommended recommendations: 21 of the best debut and sophomore works being published this year, compiled by Refinery29. For even more, be sure to check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Another phone-related book project: Call Me Ishmael, a site that collects stories about reading and life via voicemail messages. The instructions are simple: call Ishmael at 774-325-0503 and leave him a message "about a book you love and a story you have lived." Several of these messages are transcribed and posted online every week but, if we're being honest, we appreciate this project for the pun as much as for the stories.
“During various periods of my life I have succumbed to the siren call of sleeping pills. It is hard to resist their promise: one tablet, and your night will be purged. Your brain may be in overdrive, its receptors working away, hungrily awaiting more images and information, but like a computer it is forced into another mode. Yet the little white disks with a dent down the middle are no panacea; whenever I take one of these thought guillotines I feel trapped in a grey zone, seesawing between mid and shallow slumber, mind and body dulled but not of their own accord.” A lifelong insomniac recounts her long struggle with the illness.