80 years ago Samuel Beckett’s publisher rejected his short story “Echo’s Bones” because it gave him the “jim-jams.” The 13,500-word piece on the afterlife was intended for More Pricks Than Kicks until his editor Charles Prentice claimed, “People will shudder and be puzzled and confused; and they won’t be keen on analysing the shudder.” Fortunately, it will finally be published by Faber and Faber on April 17.
Next Saturday (April 29) is Independent Bookstore Day! If you’re looking for a place to celebrate, check out our staff recommendations of tried and true mainstays. You can also map out the stores Janet Potter’s “bookstore resume,” which she freely admits has taken “the shape of a relationship history.”
“I saw a novel with a mysterious-looking black woman on the cover. That was why I picked it up – because of the African woman on the cover of a book in the Science Fiction and Fantasy section. I read the first page and my eyes nearly popped out.” Book Riot has a killer roundup of posts in honor of Octavia Butler‘s birthday today, including five other sci-fi authors on being inspired by her writing (that’s Nnedi Okorafor above). Pair with our own Edan Lepucki‘s consideration of Butler’s novel Kindred.
Over at The Paris Review, Wei Tchou travels to Flannery O’Connor’s farm in Georgia. As she writes, “The charm of Andalusia lies in gestures like this, the ones that urge you into feeling as though you belong. The place isn’t a fossil, it’s a home.” Pair with Nick Rapatrazone’s Millions essay on teaching and learning from “the greatest American writer ever to load up a typewriter.”
If his new novel Against the Country is any indication, Ben Metcalf gets his best inspiration from the worst of rural America. In the book, which features a panoply of awful crimes and obscenities, Metcalf rides roughshod over the notion of the rural idyll. In Bookforum, onetime Millions staffer Emily Colette Wilkinson reviews the novel, calling it “a gut-busting knee slapper” in spite of its glut of macabre scenes.