Why should a college student major in English? It’s a question with hundreds of answers, but one of the most common is that reading, more so than other activities, makes you a better person. It sharpens your mind and hones your sense of morality. But what if this comforting idea — as close as you can get to a conviction held by all writers — has little to no basis in reality?
In the late seventies, when Susan Sontag was recovering from cancer, she hired an assistant to help her catch up on correspondence. Her editor recommended Sigrid Nunez, who began working for Sontag and ended up moving in with her. Nunez now recalls the experience with a mixture of gratitude and pain. In Dissent, a look at the economy of creative assistants.
“I’m used to writing in very weird contexts.” Poet Brian Sonia-Wallace talks with Minnesota’s Star Tribune about his gig as the Mall of America’s first-ever writer in residence. Asked if he’ll go crazy during his several-day-long tenure, Sonia-Wallace answered “probably” (via Bookforum). Our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee had some opinions back when the residency was first announced.
Lucky Alan, which came out in February, is Jonathan Lethem’s first new story collection in more than ten years. He talked with Matt Bell about it in an interview at Salon. “What’s great about short stories is the opportunity to play at reinvention; all those new departures, all those new landings to try to stick,” he says. You could also read our review of his novel Dissident Gardens.