Could James Baldwin be America’s greatest essayist? Ta-Nehisi Coates believes so — at The Atlantic, he argues that The Fire Next Time shows Baldwin committing “amazing acts of intellectual and emotional courage.” (Related: Buzz Poole paid tribute to Baldwin back in 2008.)
Andrew Ervin interviewed Matt Bell for Tin House. Bell’s forthcoming novel In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and Woods will come out this summer. (Excerpt) It’s a book that was at least partially enhanced by Bell’s sense of “competition … of a useful kind” with his friend Robert Kloss. “I was so blown away [by Alligators of Abraham],” Bell admits, “that I can remember having to resist putting down his first novel to go make mine better.”
The Virginia Quarterly Review launched their redesigned website this week, and it’s a sight to behold. To celebrate the occasion, the magazine has dropped its paywall through Valentine’s Day, so start exploring. I recommend starting with Kevin Young’s recent poem, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which he composed entirely out of song lyrics.
In an interview with The Atlantic, Zone One author Colson Whitehead says the distinction between “literary” and “fantasy” genres “have no use for me in my day-to-day work experience.” Whitehead is just one of the recent high-profile authors to foray into genre fiction, however, as Kim Wright explored in a piece for us last month.
“There are times it’s happening multiple times a day. Not too long ago, we had two in the same restroom at the same time. We call security, security calls paramedics. Of course they always find somebody lying there.” Samantha Sanders writes for Catapult about the epidemic of opioid overdoses in public libraries, and what some librarians are doing to respond. And ICYMI, here is Corinne Purtill in our own pages about British libraries under austerity cuts.
“We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.” BookRiot did us all a service by finding out the 10 most highlighted passages of (the e-book edition of) Margaret Atwood‘s The Handmaid’s Tale. You must also read our own Edan Lepucki on reading and re-reading Atwood.