At this point, we’re all familiar with Cheryl Strayed’s transformative solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail that she wrote about in Wild. Yet at Condé Nast Traveler, she discusses how a recent family vacation to Laos reawakened her passion for travel. “Here we were on a sacred hill so far off from the place from which we had come, and so abundantly thankful for it. Perhaps the power of that very gratitude is the reason I travel.”
In The Guardian, Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris writes a tribute to the novelist Jim Shepard, who taught him at UC Irvine when Ferris was a student there in the early aughts. Ferris makes a case that Shepard single-handedly settles a modern debate: “A lot of critics dislike the professionalisation of creative writing. They have never had Shepard in a workshop.”
Cookbooks, in general, are resistant to close reading, if only because their authors are barely present in the text, if at all. Yet sometimes we can discern a personality through the measurements and shopping lists. At Page-Turner, Kathleen Alcott reads the cookbooks of Nigel Slater. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen on reading cookbooks as literature.
“Life is worth less than a line of Baudelaire’s poetry.” These two lyric essays by Chen Li over at Asymptote Journal are economical and well-worth the read. Though Chen Li is from Taiwan, he writes in Chinese; this syllabus of Chinese writing and the “New China” from Casey Walker at The Millions pairs quite nicely.
“It only took me 10 years to get the verb tenses right!” Our own Garth Risk Hallberg reflects on the process of updating his debut novella, A Field Guide to the North American Family, recently reissued in a new edition by Knopf. See also: our interview with him on the occasion of the release of his blockbuster City on Fire.