“Usually, with a novel, you start with no idea what to do because your job is to create convincing characters and then they just run around getting crazy. The problem with writing a memoir, obviously, is you can’t do that because you sort of know what’s going to happen. Because you’re the character.” – Gary Shteyngart
The novelist Julie Schumacher wrote her latest, Dear Committee Members, entirely in the form of letters of recommendation. The format allowed her to illustrate the travails of a creative writing professor through a medium often ignored in fiction. At The Awl, Jessica Gross and Merve Emre talk about the novel. Pair with: Cathy Day on academia’s novel crisis.
In an article for Vanity Fair, Meredith Turtis argues that "perhaps fiction... can change the place women have in history," by giving forgotten figures new lives as characters with fascinating stories to tell. She cites Paula McClain's just-released Circling the Sun, about a trailblazing female aviator, and Megan Mayhew Bergman's Almost Famous Women, which could have been included based on the title alone. Her argument pairs well with our own Hannah Gersen's review of Jami Attenberg's Saint Mazie, a novel that fictionalizes the life and voice of a very real "Bowery celebrity."
Articles lamenting the supposed death of reading tend to include a gripe that we now spend too much time on the Internet. However, as those of you who read a lot of books and live partially on the Internet are aware, the two activities aren’t mutually exclusive. NPR’s Morning Edition has a new story (which includes our own Janet Potter discussing her rewriting of classic novel titles as click-bait headlines) about the intersection between the lit world and the meme world.