OK, so you’ve read our article about why you should respect J.D. Salinger’s wishes by not reading his unpublished stories, but you’ve also noticed that nobody’s really said anything about his stories that are out-of-print.
Writers are told that they should outline their work. Elizabeth Gilbert has outdone us all by writing a 70-page outline for The Signature of All Things. “I have no German Romantic idea about work. There’s no fugue state, you know? I could no more write at 3 a.m. than I could with a quill pen. I keep farmer’s hours and I have that sort of plotting and plodding way,” she told The Daily Beast.
“If you ask around, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a really bad novel easily enough. I mean a novel by someone who has spent isolated years writing a book they are convinced is a great work of literature. And when you’re reading it you’ll know it’s bad, and you’ll know what bad truly is.” What makes bad writing so bad? Toby Litt at The Guardian investigates.
This week sees the release of Edward St. Aubyn’s final “Patrick Melrose novel,” At Last. A new, omnibus edition of all the novels in the series is also out. Steve Erickson’s new novel These Dreams of You is out, as is The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, a debut effort set in Burma by German novelist Jan-Philipp Sendker. This week also sees the release, on Blu-ray, of the 50th anniversary edition of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Louis Menand, Thessaly La Force, Amelia Lester, and David Haglund have come together to discuss the influence of literary powerhouse and cultural icon Joan Didion in The New Yorker’s Out Loud Podcast. Our own Michael Bourne calls Didion America’s Truth Teller in his review of her biography.
Recommended Reading: Michael J. Avogino‘s “Total Utter Madness: A Story of Soccer” from the Tin House archives. If you’re going to watch soccer all day, might as well throw some good writing in there too, right? An example: “Life would go on, as would the sport of soccer and all that came with it: the brotherhood, the ethnocentricity, the sportsmanship, the nationalism, the love, the regionalism, the racism, class conflict, the sublime, the nonsensical, amongst white, black, brown, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Jew, everyone guilty and innocent.”
On Friday, I wrote about the British writer William Boyd, whose new play, Longing, debuted last week at London’s Hampstead Theatre. The play is based on two of Chekhov’s short stories, one of which (according to Boyd’s new article in The Guardian) sheds light on the great author’s love life. Apparently the young Anton had “at least two dozen” affairs.