If you don’t have a New Yorker subscription and can’t read Dana Goodyear’s wonderful profile of Lydia Davis, then you can at the very least check out the Can’t and Won’t author’s interview with Quarterly Conversation. Or, of course, you could just go straight to the source and mainline some of her short fiction directly.
Lots of new releases this week, among them a new paperback edition of Tenth of December by George Saunders. Also out: Leaving the Sea by Ben Marcus; The Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah; On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee; The Scent of Pine by Lara Vapnyar; The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd; The Secret History of Las Vegas by Chris Abani; and Little Failure by Year in Reading alum Gary Shteyngart. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Graduation season is upon us, and college students across the nation are listening to esteemed commencement speakers. Some get treated to the likes of Bill Watterson, Jon Stewart, or Barbara Kingsolver. (I got to listen to The Rock.) In the thrill of the moment, it feels like it hardly matters who’s at the podium. One wonders if audiences really grasp the material in these speeches right away, or if the speaker’s words only become clear later on. Inspired by David Foster Wallace’s iconic Kenyon address in 2005, our own Kevin Hartnett tried to find out.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with my husband’s American cousins, who have a five-year-old daughter. She is fascinated and confused by my ‘Briddish’ accent, which she seems to think at points is something I’m putting on. She invented a game where she’ll point at an object in the room and I have to say the word for it—Carpet! Dump truck!—in my best American accent (which is dreadful, by the way). This had her in stitches. When the laughter had died down, she turned to her parents, suddenly contemplative, and said, ‘Isn’t it amazing that Sarah knows a few words in our language?’” Lily Blacksell interviews T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Sarah Howe on how being in the U.S. changes her perception of language, writing in the first-person, and “authenticity.”