Seeing as yesterday was Donald Barthelme’s birthday, it’s as good a time as any to remember the short fiction icon. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reads Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing,” which you can find in the author’s collection of essays and interviews. Sample quote: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”
Linda Chavers pens an important letter to black girls everywhere. She writes, “I am giving you the prologue. You must go forward accepting and understanding that no one will ever do it as well as you do, and no one will ever tell you that you do it better than anybody else.” Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s list of books that “shed light on the history and evolution of racism in America.”
Amidst all the controversy surrounding Go Set a Watchman, one question that gets left out is how realistic, exactly, the book is in its depiction of its setting. At Salon, Scott Timberg sits down with Professor Angela Thorburg, who makes a case that regardless of its literary qualities, Watchman is “a very accurate perspective of what’s going on here in the South.”
Esi Edugyan’s Half-Blood Blues, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, is now out in the U.S. Also new this week are John D’Agata’s much-discussed Lifespan of a Fact, Sarah Manguso’s The Guardians, Ellen Ullman’s By Blood and The Boiling Season by Christopher Hebert, who has an essay up on our site today. The new memoir by Anthony Shadid has seen its release date pushed up to this week. See our remembrance of Shadid. Finally, it’s Christmas for baseball fans: the 2012 Baseball Prospectus is out.
“Echoes are etched into the pages thanks to margin-scrawled notes, a yellowed coffee splatter or sticky peanut-butter-and-jelly fingerprints.” In her project “Expired,” photographer Kerry Mansfield documents the life of library books. We suggest pairing The Guardian‘s gallery of her photos with our own Jacob Lambert‘s “Open Letter to the Person Who Wiped Boogers on My Library Book.”