Recommended Reading, if you have the time: the full archives of the famed Partisan Review (published from 1934 to 2003) are now available online, searchable, and completely free. Essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews in the vault include work by Hannah Arendt, James Baldwin, Samuel Beckett, Allen Ginsberg, Franz Kafka, Doris Lessing, George Orwell, Marge Piercy, Jean-Paul Sartre, Roger Shattuck, Susan Sontag, William Styron, Lionel Trilling, and Robert Penn Warren. A worthy epitaph: “The Partisan Review is finished, but its vision has triumphed.”
Out this week: Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball; Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill; This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash; The Last Enchantments by Millions contributor Charles Finch; My Life in Middlemarch by New Yorker staff writer (and Millions interviewee) Rebecca Mead; and Still Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
“Thinking about her life is like sifting ashes. You believe you see the clear outline of a message, but it inevitably disintegrates before you can be sure of its sense. The mantle of a ‘rediscovered writer’ has never settled firmly around [her] shoulders; she has a way of resisting the platitudes of remembering.” Michelle Dean on the writer Nella Larsen.
Over at Bookslut, Brian Nicholson follows up our recent piece on Silvina Ocampo’s Thus Were Their Faces with his own review of the book, writing that “She does not need to invent books of infinite pages, for the world of what we know already contains things as strange as mirrors.” The review draws a comparison between her work and that of Borges, her close friend.
Post-40 Bloomer Daniel Orozco won Stanford’s William Saroyan International Prize for Writing this week. His story collection, Orientation, beat out a murderer’s row of adversaries including Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station and Miroslav Penkov’s East of the West: A Country in Stories. Check out excerpts or stories from all three writers here, here, and here, respectively.
“I lived alone for three years in Brooklyn, paying $1,700 a month ($61,200 all told) for a pretty but small one-bedroom within eyeshot of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway. I also spent $400 a month on health insurance. At one point I thought I would find another full-time job after finishing the book, but then I must have convinced myself that teaching yoga part time would better enable my writing.” Emily Gould on poverty and the writing life.
The London Review of Books sought out Will Self to help create “a digital literary work that pushed the boundaries of the literary essay well beyond its traditional form.” The effort, they hoped, would “loosen and enhance the structure of the essay, changing the way the reader interacts with the text.” Well, consider that a success. Behold, “Kafka’s Wound” in all its multimedia glory. [Bonus: Millions readers in the UK can catch Will Self’s discussion of the digital essay on September 6th.]