Can’t get enough of Orange is the New Black? Neither could The Missouri Review. Their new blog series, Literature on Lockdown, shares narratives from those who teach or write in prisons. This week’s post comes from Ace Boggess, a poet who spent five years in a West Virginia prison. “One thing about being a writer in prison is that you have not lost everything. You still have that driving need to speak whatever truth you know in whatever way you can. No one can take that away from you, not even the State.”
Joel Rice has a new column up at McSweeney’s, in which he looks at “the literature of skateboarding.” All in all, this kind of reflective writing should pair nicely with Nick Courage’s fantastic Paris Review piece from last month. (Bonus: Rice’s column linked above also features a nice little bit of David Foster Wallace memorabilia.)
If I had been near enough to a computer and had enough time to blog over the last month, I probably would have talked about Nicholson Baker’s new book, Checkpoint. I haven’t read it, so I can only comment on the reactions that I have seen to the book. Most have been negative. The book is about two friends who are sitting in a hotel room having a conversation. One character wants to assassinate President George W. Bush, the other is trying to talk him out of it. The subject matter alone seems to come from a desire to create controversy, and though Baker and his publisher have gone out of their way to condemn violence, Baker has said that he was motivated by his own personal anger to write the book. If you ask me, controversial subject matter + short book (115 pages in this case) + rush to press = literary publicity stunt, and many, including the New York Times agree.Readers of fiction looking for a weekly dose and writers of fiction looking for an audience should check out Weekly Reader, a little website that delivers a story to your inbox every week.Poaching two great links from Arts & Letters Daily: Jonathan Yardley loves Hunter S. Thompson’s new collection of pieces from ESPN.com’s page 2, Hey Rube; and Tibor Fischer discusses the current slate of Booker hopefuls.
In many of Queens’ 62 library branches, copies of books are being borrowed are in Korean, Chinese or Spanish. A library branch in Astoria, responding to its own diverse readership, carries children’s books in Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese and Gujarati. Striving to cater to the intensifying globalization of its surrounding streets, the New York neighborhood library speaks your language as never before.
New releases this week include Keith Richard’s rock memoir Life, reviewed for The Millions by Jim Santel, Michael Caine’s The Elephant to Hollywood, an “unabashedly old-school celebrity memoir” according to its New York Times review, and Stephen Sondheim’s songwriting book Finishing the Hat.