The Yale Literary Magazine caught up with the reclusive author Denis Johnson to discuss the poets who made him want to write poetry, his favorite mass cultural product, and the chief reason he avoids giving interviews.
After working on his novel Family Life for seven years, Akhil Sharma began to lose his mind. Whenever he sat down to write, he began having panic attacks, the kind that left his chest feeling “constantly bruised” for months on end. Eventually, he hit on a solution: he learned to take his mind off his novel by praying for other people.
“What knits together the families of Roth’s Newark are adults—some foreign-born but many the children of immigrants—who either experienced the insecurity and deprivation of the Old World themselves or heard stories about it from their own parents. What they want most is to find stability in a neighborhood, in a city, and in a country that offers them the chance at security for their families.” On Philip Roth and Newark, NJ.
Recommended reading: “One of the drillers fell to his knees. Some sobbed, in the way men do when their mothers die, or when their sons are born.” An exceptional and deeply moving long-form essay in the New Yorker recounting the 69 days spent underground by the famed ’33’ Chilean miners buried in the 2010 accident at Copiapó.