What inspired Wally Lamb’s latest novel, We Are Water? Part of it came from his experience teaching writing at a women’s prison in Connecticut for the past 14 years. He spoke to The Missouri Review about what it’s like to teach “the incarcerated wounded” and how they have influenced his work. “With my fiction, I’ve never been afraid to go to the dark places, but I think the women have made me more daring.”
Recommended Reading: Anne Boyd Rioux on J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee and the private lives of writers.
“Tracing the journey of a mediocre actor and Holocaust survivor ‘touched by some mysterious higher design’ as he forges and impersonates his way through the war and then back to the city of his birth, the story is part Samuel Beckett and part Isaac Bashevis Singer, with a sudden final bolt of O. Henry. It has the flavour of a morality tale, but what’s most fascinating to me is how difficult it is to derive a moral from it, or rather how easy it is to derive more than one and how openly they stand in conflict with each other.” Kevin Brockmeier extols the fiction of Leandro Sarmatz.
If you received a text from an unknown number saying, “sup you comnig to this thing?”, would you respond? Michael Cera imagines the ensuing conversation in his epistolary humor piece, “My Man Jeremy,” for The New Yorker. Depending on how you feel about the actor, the piece is either endearingly awkward or annoying, but it’s very Cera — complete with anxiety and references to how he always gets mixed up with fellow “Shouts & Murmurs” contributor Jesse Eisenberg.
Looking to get into Philip Roth? Not sure where to start in the perennial Nobel favorite’s massive ouevre? Thankfully, the novelist Gabriel Roth is here, swooping in with the only guide you’ll ever need. He explains why Portnoy’s Complaint made the splash it did, why Goodbye, Columbus put Roth on the map, and why the character of David Kepesh is critical to understanding Roth’s legacy. Related: Keith Meatto picks out ten lessons from the author’s work.