“Werner isn’t surprised to pass the entrance exams easily. He’s more nonplused to find his head measured with calipers and his hair whiter than any of the 60-odd shades of blond on the examiners’ charts. It goes without saying that his eyes are also rated for their shade of blue.” Janet Maslin reviews Anthony Doerr’s new novel.
Alice Munro announced her retirement from writing this week. “Perhaps, when you’re my age,” she told a National Post reporter, “you don’t wish to be alone as much as a writer has to be.” Previously the Canadian author announced her retirement in 2006, but that didn’t stop her from publishing two more books – including her latest story collection, Dear Life (Millions review). The uninitiated can get a primer on her entire oeuvre by checking out our comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Alice Munro. See also: “Can Writers Retire? Let Us Count the Ways”
“You could say that Fancy is about a couple of comical old kooks stuck in a dismal town finding creative ways of making themselves (and some luckless bystanders) crazy … and you wouldn’t be wrong. But you could also say that it’s the story of the composition of the manifesto of a bizarre and protean (protozoan?) order of being in which we’re all just patterns mistaking ourselves for people.” In a piece for BOMB Magazine, Scott Esposito interviews Jeremy M. Davies about Bernhard, Olive Garden, writing Fancy and reintroducing humor into modernist literature. Their conversation pairs well with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s look at, well, the conversations of BOMB interviews.
This list of the ten best weather events in fiction history includes, among other things, the mud in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and the fraught weather forecast from Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse. Let’s talk a little bit more about weather with this review from The Millions.
“If you would write, try to be terse and in some measure original—the world abounds with new similes and metaphors… If you cannot tell people of something they have not seen, or have not thought, it is hardly worthwhile to write at all.” The Paris Review shares writing advice from a 21-year-old D.H. Lawrence .
In mid-January, ten days after moving to California, Geoff Dyer suffered a stroke while throwing away trash in his new home. At the hospital, he recovered quickly, but the incident left him “conscious that the ground could open Adairishly beneath my feet at any moment.” In the LRB, he writes about the experience. (Related: Dyer wrote two Year in Reading entries for The Millions.)
Out this week: The Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique; Last Stories and Other Stories by William T. Vollmann; High as the Horses’ Bridles by Scott Cheshire; The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai; Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Thomas Sweterlitsch; A Brave Man Seven Storeys Tall by Will Chancellor; The Confessions of Frances Godwin by Robert Hellenga; Don’t Try to Find Me by Holly Brown; The Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe; Mr. Gwyn by Alessandro Baricco; Road Ends by Mary Lawson; and our own Edan Lepucki’s California (which you may have seen on Colbert). For more, go read our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.