The essay is more popular than ever. At Salon, talks to Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams, here’s our review) and Roxane Gay (author of the forthcoming Bad Feminist) about the power of the genre. Gay believes our interest in essays is because of a “cultural preoccupation with the exposure of the self.” They also discuss if we’re in a golden age of women essayists. “Sometimes when men write about private feeling, it’s seen as exploratory or daring, and when women write about private feeling it’s seen as limited or in the vein of a kind of circumscribed emotional writing,” Jamison says.
James Hynes discusses the books he read when writing his latest novel, Next: "I wanted to see if I could write a day-in-the-life novel, a narrative that would be set in a single day, or part of one, and by working backwards and forwards through flashbacks, encompass the entire life of a single character."
New this week: All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld; In the Course of Human Events by Mike Harvkey; Casebook by Mona Simpson; The Other Story by Tatiana de Rosnay; Vernon Downs by Jaime Clarke; and Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers, edited by Eleanor Henderson and Anna Solomon. For more on these titles and other new releases, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Alexandra Kleeman’s debut novel includes, among other discomfiting things, a series of fake advertisements for surreal women’s beauty products. The plot, which follows a proofreader named A, begins with the main character’s attempt to evade her roommate, and eventually brings A to join a “Church of Conjoined Eaters.” At Slate, Molly Fischer argues the book deftly captures our society’s weird treatment of femininity.
This past week at the LBC was a lot of fun. We discussed the book I nominated, The Cottagers by Marshall Klimasewiski. If you missed it, you should check it out, particularly Friday's podcast which includes an appearance by yours truly.In other podcast news, Ed, who is an accomplished podcaster, tried and failed to interview Marisha Pessl, author of Special Topics in Calamity Physics, for his show. Callie also had some thoughts on Pessl, as did CAAF.Fresh off of declaring that the typical litblogger is "some guy sitting in his basement in Terre Haute," Richard Ford will see his Bascombe trilogy turned into an HBO mini-series (via Scott). Litblogger Noah gave Ford's Lay of the Land a good review last year, but for all Ford knows, Noah was writing from here.Scott looks at Dave Eggers' What is the What and ponders how atrocity is portrayed in fiction.
"I always think, 'What if I can’t?' Then I always think, 'Oh shit, don’t think that.' Because thinking about it can make it happen. Not like it’s happened that often. But I get scared about it. We all do. Anybody that tells you they don’t they’re full of it. They’re always scared it might happen." There's a lot of really bad writing about sex. This is a piece about some of the good stuff.
Millions writer Sonya Chung has a trenchant essay up at Huffington Post on the topic of writing and motherhood: "Art Before Life: Questioning the Parenthood Question."