It’s not often that a writer has an essay collection and a debut novel come out in the space of a few months, but that’s exactly the situation of Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay, whose novel An Untamed State and collection Bad Feminist are both getting published this year. At Bookforum, Margaret Weppler reads An Untamed State, which displays, she writes, “a staggering sense of strength, confidence and integrity.”
At The Chronicle of Higher Education: A breathtakingly ballsy piece by an anonymous professional writer of academic papers — friend to non-native speakers, the rich and lazy, and the hopelessly dim. Whatever your professor wants, he delivers (for a fee, of course). This Ed Dante might remind you of Vitaly Borker, the charmingly unapologetic (and equally ballsy) thug internet retailer profiled by David Segal in the NYTimes a few weeks back.
Yesterday I told you about a ridiculously rare signed copy of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, a poem famously loaded with coldness and sterility and failed human intimacy. Later this month, some new letters will be published that reveal the depth of Eliot’s mental anguish over the breakdown of his first marriage with his wife, Vivien. Eliot has long been accused (maybe fairly) of treating Vivien with intolerable cruelty and attributing to her mental state, and these letters aim to complicate that narrative.
Out this week: Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander; Sourdough by Robin Sloan; Border by Kapka Kassabova; A Legacy of Spies by John le Carré; and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
Our own Edan Lepucki interviewed National Book Award finalists George Saunders and Rachel Kushner for the National Book Foundation. Saunders discussed money issues in his writing. “Now I feel like paucity vs. grace is one of the great American issues—we all live with it every day.” Kushner explained her writing process. “The sentences are beads on a string; I see each one as essential.”
Recent Pulitzer laureate Adam Johnson has a new short story in Esquire, and it’s a doozy, invoking drone strikes, Obama and Kurt Cobain in the course of its tightly-knit plot. Sample quote: “I wonder if the First Lady was the one to turn off the machine.”