This week Margaret Atwood tweeted a photo of her and Alice Munro drinking champagne in a “secret lair.” There’s no denying it — technology has changed the way we tell stories. Atwood and 16 other writers, from Victor LaValle to Lee Child, discussed how technology influences their work in The New York Times. “There’s nothing worse for plots than cellphones. Once your characters have one, there’s no reason for them to get lost or stranded,” Rainbow Rowell said.
“The easiest way to appear to be well-read is to socialize exclusively with uncultured cretins, which simply won’t do, so instead you should subscribe to the New York Review of Books and read it religiously, committing to memory one idea from each piece and praying to achieve a casual air when, at a dinner party, fobbing off this insight as your own.” Advice from Slate on how to appear well-read, with some bonus advice on how to actually become well-read, just for good measure.
“In real life, we are often so bound by social convention, but at the same time we all have secret, inexplicable aspects of ourselves. The parts that nobody else sees. In fiction, we are not bound by social convention, so the things that mystify and unsettle are allowed to rise to the surface.” Salon interviews Laura van den Berg about her new novel, Find Me, which we covered in our Great 2015 Book Preview.
“In my mind, the encircled bird on the cover of the 1978 Pocket Books edition of Play It As It Lays immediately recalled another: the mockingjay pin given to Katniss Everdeen at the start of Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games.” At Paper Monument: the importance of book covers.
Thanks to her new book, Lydia Davis is getting a lot of well-deserved attention, including an interview with Salon this week. In conversation with Brendan Matthews, she reflects on her “letters of complaint,” her habit of juggling multiple projects and the effects of translating Proust on writing emails.
Nemesis, the latest from Philip Roth is now out. Other new fiction this week includes Nicole Krauss’ Great House and Myla Goldberg’s The False Friend. In non-fiction, Steven Johnson takes on a thought-provoking topic with Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation. Also new are Ron Chernow’s massive biography of George Washington and a new book from Bill Bryson, At Home: A Short History of Private Life.