Recommended Reading: An excerpt from comedian and Year In Reading alum Rob Delaney’s memoir, Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. “I haven’t been to war, so I can’t comment on what that experience is like, but people who go through rehab or a halfway house walk a tough road together and not all of them make it.”
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”
“Romatic realist” painter Bo Bartlett, born in Columbus, Georgia, is renowned for his epic tableaus depicting a “Hopper-like sense of longing and mystery combined with a Lynchian-cocktail of menace, beauty, and stranger-than-fiction reality.” He was also a protégé and life-long friend of Andrew Wyeth. In Oxford American‘s most recent SoLost installment, the crew checks out Bartlett’s surprising and endearing winter workspace.
The Man Booker International prize was just awarded to Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai, author of Satantango (later adapted for film by Béla Tarr) and Seiobo There Below. When asked to recommend a starting point for readers who have yet to encounter his work, the author defers: “I couldn’t recommend anything … instead, I’d advise them to go out, sit down somewhere, perhaps by the side of a brook, with nothing to do, nothing to think about, just remaining in silence like stones. They will eventually meet someone who has already read my books.” Well, if a stream isn’t handy, we have a few ideas: our own interview with Krasznahorkai, Stephanie Newman’s review of Seiobo There Below, and Music and Literature’s issue no. 2, featuring literature on and by Krasznahorkai and Béla Tarr.
Why is it okay to say “I’m working on a novel” but not okay to say “I’m working on my novel”? The former is a normal, straightforward, expression, while the latter smacks of arrogance and self-absorption. At Bookforum, Jesse Barron writes about the oddity of Working on My Novel, a collection of retweets (you read that correctly) of writers telling the world about their labors. It might also be a good time to read Dominic Smith on the number of novelists at work in America. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)
Black Balloon created an “evolving e-book” iPad app for Louise Krug’s new memoir, Louise: Amended, and they’re giving it away for free! Plus, to sweeten the deal even further, emailing a request for the promo code will automatically enter you into a drawing for a $100 Powell’s gift card.