Koa Beck’s father gave her a copy of Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying when she was 15 years old. Depending on your persuasion, this was either a brilliant idea or an awful parental blunder. Regardless, Beck says the book (aided by The Bell Jar and Diary of a Mad Housewife) helped her understand that “the game was rigged, that everyone was lying, [and] that there was so much more to being a woman than what society said there was.”
The new issue of The Quarterly Conversation features a symposium on the work of the late David Foster Wallace, featuring essays by Edie Meidav, Lance Olsen, and Andrew Altschul…plus Scott Esposito‘s welcome defense of Infinite Jest‘s canonization.
In the latest issue of The Walrus, Casey Plett reads a number of books involving transgender people, critiquing several aspects of their depictions. Along with the essay, she provides a list of transgender novels everyone should read, including Nevada by Imogen Binnie and Wanting in Arabic by Trish Salah.
Last week I asked “What about J.T. Leroy?” I was wondering when the Leroy hoaxers were going to come forward. Now, one of them has. Warren St. John of the New York Times got Geoffrey Knoop to come clean on the record. Knoop also said that he didn’t think Laura Albert, who wrote the Leroy books, would ever come forward: “‘For her, it’s very personal,’ he said. ‘It’s not a hoax. It’s a part of her.'”Meanwhile, PopMatters put together a special section about Leroy and James Frey. I enjoyed The Rake’s related comments on why Frey can’t hold a candle to Charles Bukowski.I saw Brokeback Mountain a few days ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. In an excerpt from Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay, Annie Proulx describes what it was like seeing her story on the screen: “I felt that, just as the ancient Egyptians had removed a corpse’s brain through the nostril with a slender hook before mummification, the cast and crew of this film, from the director down, had gotten into my mind and pulled out images.” (via Maud)This Boston Globe column articulates quite precisely how I feel about the strife surrounding the cartoons of Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper.
Our review of A Widow’s Story took Joyce Carol Oates to task for not mentioning that she had remarried not long after the death of her husband. In the New York Review of Books, Julian Barnes recently made the same point. Responding to the Barnes review, Oates defended her choice, but diplomatically added, “In retrospect I can see that I should have added something like an appendix.”
Michael K. Williams, best known to some as The Wire’s Omar Little or Boardwalk Empire’s Chalky White, talks publicly for the first time about his battles with addiction, and how his stint on the Baltimore crime drama coincided with some of the lowest points in his life. “I suffered from a huge identity crisis,” Williams says. “In the end, I was more comfortable with Omar’s skin than my own. That was a problem.”
The Millions is adding a new staff writer today. Join us in welcoming Bill Morris. Bill most recently wrote a consideration of China Miéville for the site this week, his fifth piece for us thus far. Bill is the author of the novels Motor City and All Souls’ Day. His writing has appeared in Granta, The New York Times, L.A. Weekly, the (London) Independent, the Washington Post Magazine and the website Aolnews.com. He lives in New York City.