New this week: The Brunist Day of Wrath by Robert Coover; Frog Music by Emma Donoghue; Off Course by Michelle Huneven; And the Dark Sacred Night by Julia Glass; Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland; The Ballad of a Small Player by Lawrence Osborne; Love & Treasure by Ayelet Waldman; and The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Javier Marías cogently summarizes all the reasons to stop writing novels immediately, and adds only one reason to write them anyway: “Fiction is the most bearable of worlds.” We reviewed The Infatuations, one of his own twelve works (to date), last year.
The Table 4 Writers Foundation was founded in memory of Elaine Kaufman, a larger-than-life literary personality and hostess who supported NYC writers at her restaurant for many years, and awards grants to promising writers for unpublished work. The 2014 winners have just been released, and their prizewinning work can be read online. There will also be a gala in honor of the winners on April 30 in NYC, and tickets can be purchased here.
“[G]uess what, spending hours of your spare time plowing through some dense and symbol-laden carnival of affectation and ambiguity only makes you resentful of the publishing industry that pushed the book on you in the first place.” Alex Balk at The Awl takes the piss out of recent studies that have suggested reading literary fiction might make us better people. Writer John Vaillant, whom we interviewed last year, might disagree.
Thomas Hardy was one cold dude. Read some of these excerpts from his letters and find your day ruined. Highlights include a critique of a prime minister’s funeral and his excitement at the hanging of Elizabeth Martha Brown, accused of killing her husband. Here’s a Millions piece on the difficulties of teaching Hardy in 21st-century Florida.
Over at Bloom check out this 3-part feature—a conversation and excerpts—on fiction writers-cum-memoirists Robin Black (If I Loved You I Would Tell You This, Life Drawing) and Natalie Serber (Shout Her Lovely Name)—former classmates at the Warren Wilson low-res MFA program, both later-life bloomers, and both “writing for their lives” in new memoirs.