Our own Emily St. John Mandel guest judged Electric Literature’s Critical Hit Awards this month. She discussed what she looks for in a book review in an interview with Brian Hurley. “I prefer reviews that go beyond talking about literature, so that the book under review is considered in the context of the surrounding world,” she said. The winners are Andrew Winer’s review of The Kraus Project by Jonathan Franzen, Rachel Monroe’s review of The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins by Brenda Stevenson, and our own review of Karen Green’s Bough Down by Suzanne Scanlon.
Anthony Domestico, who studied under James Wood at Harvard, turns in a review of the critic’s latest non-fiction collection, The Fun Stuff. Aside from penning an astute review of the book, Domestico draws from his firsthand experience with Wood to pepper his write-up with details such as this: “While puzzling over a complex passage, he would vigorously rub the top of his head, as if hoping to coax interpretive brilliance from his bald spot like a genie from a lamp.” (Bonus: our own Lydia Kiesling takes a look at Wood’s latest for Bullet Media.)
2,000 recently digitized copies of Ernest Hemingway’s papers will be transferred from Cuba to Boston’s John F. Kennedy Library – this will be the first time copies of the papers will be available to U.S. researchers. As of right now, I don’t believe there are any plans to return the urinal Hemingway took from a Key West bar to its proper location in Sloppy Joe’s.
” I love the shape of words, I love the comet-tail histories of words. I love the roll and crunch of syllables in my mouth.” In Electric Literature, Laura van den Berg interviews R.O. Kwon about religious fanaticism, “unknowing,” and her upcoming debut novel, The Incendiaries. Pair with: Kwon’s 2017 Year in Reading.
Granta has a new series in which authors explain how they arrived at successful opening sentences. In the latest installment, Colombian author Héctor Abad links the brain chemistry that inspired him to write his chosen sentence with the chemistry that inspired him to fall in love with his wife.
“In one of his last columns, published in March 1966, Flann O’Brien looked back on his catechism, compiled more than twenty years earlier, and described it as ‘an exegetic survey of the English language in its extremity of logo-daedalate poliomyelitis, anaemic prostration and the paralysis of incoherence.’ One month after writing that, he was dead, and yet within a year a remarkable renaissance was taking place, with the long-delayed publication of his great comic fantasy The Third Policeman and, soon afterwards, the first of many anthologies of the ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ columns, this one entitled The Best of Myles.” (Related: our own Mark O’Connell on the humor in O’Brien’s work.)