Jonathan Lethem thinks his work is taken too seriously. “Well, I was just watching Richard Pryor, and he says, ‘When you’re dating a white woman, and people don’t like it, you can’t really pretend. You can’t go, “Oh, she’s not with me.”‘ ‘You write the big, ambitious books, right?’ Well, I guess they are,” he said in an interview with Salon. He also discusses being equated with Jonathan Franzen and his new novel, Dissident Gardens.
“Marlon James’s management of the voice and the paragraph isn’t what you’d call unpretty, and he’s good at having it both ways on a larger scale too. Reptilian black-ops masterminds out of a Robert Stone novel as well as bumbling CIA bureaucrats, baroque deaths in the bush and casual killings by the side of the road, historical and magic realism, sex and violence and a more ‘sophisticated kind of art’: the guy’s got it all.” This review of James’ A Brief History of Seven Killings from The London Review of Books is well worth the read.
The story of how a publishing house began is the definition of literary inside baseball, but this piece by Jonathan Galassi — in which the FSG president responds to an upcoming book on the heyday of his company — does a pretty nice job of spurring a general reader’s interest. Among other things, it reveals that First Wife Dorothea Straus once called the company’s office “a sexual sewer.”