At Bookforum, Rebecca Donner talks with former Granta editor John Freeman about his new book of interviews, How to Read a Novelist. Freeman says that he enjoys interviewing writers in their homes because it allows him to observe them more closely: “The writer thinks you’re taking notes about what he’s saying, but you’re really writing, ‘His head looks like a lion’s head.’”
“That has always been the unsettling irony of the carefree aesthetic. Rhetorically, it denies the full unpredictability of black experiences in America. It is a stereotype, albeit one intended for benevolence and created, perhaps lovingly, by black people.” Doreen St. Félix writes about the roots and ramifications of the “Carefree Black Boy” phenomenon.
Sick of feeling inadequate compared to your literary peers? Well, you might want to stop reading, then: turns out Adam Thirlwell published his first book when he was three. (The readers of Granta learn this not from Thirlwell, who seems a bit abashed, but instead from Year in Reading alumnus Jeffrey Eugenides.)
Practically everyone with a pulse loves Patti Smith. Celebrate Sunday by listening to her speak about Virginia Woolf’s cane, Charles Dickens’s pen, and a few other literary talismans. Here’s a handy Spotify playlist which gathers every song from Smith’s award-winning memoir Just Kids.