“The stories that dominated the serious magazines and journals seemed to share a flat fireless quality… Characters dropped half out of love, or endured a minor crisis, or just wandered around treasuring their sense of dismay about, you know, the fallenness of the world.” In case you missed it: Slate’s review of Stuart Dybek‘s new collection of stories, Paper Lantern, also delivers an acerbic take on the modernist past and current “revitalization” of the American short story.
Over thirteen years, John Berryman wrote his famous Dream Songs, composing his most innovative and well-known poetry while his own life began to unravel. In a piece for the LRB, August Kleinzahler reappraises the poet to mark a raft of new editions of his work, citing Randall Jarrell, Saul Bellow and other contemporaries in the process. Pair with Stephen Akey on The Dream Songs.
There’s no official protocol for responding to a disappointed fan, but that may change after more writers get wind of this response, written by Threats author Amelia Gray, to a man who complained that her book was “nothing more than conversations among insane people.” Gray admitted that the man’s gripe did, in fact, have merit, after which she urged him to buy a copy of A Time to Kill.
The recent passing of Christopher Hitchens has led to numerous praiseful eulogies. Many have been (and he would've hated this…) hagiographic. Now, in an article for The Nation, Katha Pollitt seeks to "complicate the picture … at the risk of seeming churlish" to allege that the man "had virtually no interest in women's writing or women's lives or perspectives."
"Despite its brevity, the diary is an illuminating document that offers a glimpse into the mind of the artist as a young woman." The never-before-seen diary of Flannery O’Connor has been published in Image, an arts and faith quarterly, and reveals the shadow of the writer she would become. See also: our own Nick Ripatrazone on teaching O'Connor.
“To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail,” Will Self told The Guardian. He and six other authors, including Margaret Atwood and Lionel Shriver, reflect on their life, career, and love disappointments. Pair with: our own Edan Lepucki’s essay on accepting rejection.
Teju Cole’s Every Day Is for the Thief is out this week, as is Karen Russell’s e-book novella Sleep Donation. Also out: The Brunist Day of Wrath by Robert Coover; Falling Out of Time by David Grossman; Bad Teeth by Dustin Long; The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson; and The Space Between Us by Zoya Pirzad.