“If one-sentence stories are as common as snowflakes, one-sentence novels are as rare as white ravens.” At The New Yorker, Brad Leithauser writes about the one-sentence novel or the point when the story builds to a particular sentence. To give you an example, here’s one of his favorites from Lolita: “I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigments, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art.”
Attn Twitterers: Some folks have been following me @cmaxmagee, but starting today we’ll be using @The_Millions for the occasional books- and Millions-related “tweet.” If you are the twittering type, throw a “follow” our way (and spread the word). (Thanks to my brother Phil for securing and holding onto @The_Millions until I finally got around to using it.)
This week, Granta redesigned its website, which now boasts a spiffy black-and-white aesthetic. If you’re looking for an excuse to check it out, you could do worse than reading Year in Reading alum Hari Kunzru’s “Drone,” a story which appears in their India issue. (They’re also highlighting great pieces from their archives, among them the story “Night” by Alice Munro.)
In his latest Year in Reading, Chigozie Obioma told us about Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty Is a Wound, “the howling masterpiece of 2015…a howl, an outrage, and a sheer burst of particular talent.” In an illuminating interview for Electric Literature, Kurniawan discusses the label “magic realism,” epic creation, and his ideas for his next novel.
When John Steinbeck wasn’t busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. “The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages,” he wrote to an agent.
“Our literary culture has distended and warped by focusing so much power in a singular place, by crowding the gatekeepers into a small ditch of commerce. A review in the Times trumps everything else. You can’t tell me that this doesn’t affect what is, finally, bound into books, marketed, and sold. Which designates what can be said and how one says it. Why do we cede American letters to a handful of corporations that exist on a single concrete patch?” This piece by Matthew Neill Null at The Literary Hub raises a lot of extremely important questions about what gets published and why.