Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the 21st Century, has said that he drew inspiration from the social-criticism novels of Austen, Dickens, and Balzac. According to the LA Review of Books, the new Gilded Age that Piketty critiques has generated–and will continue to generate–social novels of its own.
“They’re pictures, not images; displays, not shots; illustrations, not compositions. They are respectful displays of performance—of the demonstrative theatrical antics into which Anderson lets his performers lapse.” Richard Brody on the film version of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.
“Most writers … don’t ask questions of a journalist,” writes How to Read a Novelist author John Freeman. But what of those that do? Over the course of a fifteen year career, Freeman has found that “what the novelists asked of me told me [a great deal] about them,” and that a big problem with the standard format for author interviews, after all, is that “the conventions of the interview deprive us of one thing a novelist does quite a bit, which is ask questions.” (Bonus: Freeman will be in conversation with Jennifer Egan Thursday night at McNally Jackson.)
Hugo Lindgren, editor of The New York Times Magazine, participated in a pretty nifty Reddit Ask Me Anything installment. When one commenter asked him how long it takes to prepare each week’s Meh List, Lindgren wrote, “The Meh list never stops. The actual compilation of it is lickety split but the hunt for Meh is eternal.” He also admitted that two of his favorite magazine stories are Mark Jacobson’s “Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet” and John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” [Reg. Req.].
Writer James Salter died on Friday. We interviewed him in 2012 and he reflected on memory and on his long life as a writer. He said, “Everything you know, nobody else knows, and everything you imagine or see belongs to you alone. What you write comes out of that, both in the trivial and deepest sense.” Prior to that, in 2010, Sonya Chung wrote about Salter’s legacy and how he finally seemed to be getting his due as more than just “a writer’s writer.”
Recommended Reading: Lydia Davis’s new short story, “Old Men Around Town,” in the New Statesman. “He stops to tell us that he must be up early in the morning – to get down to the factory. The factory is gone, his men are gone, but he still seems to be in charge of something.” For more Davis, check out her new collection.