Using pen names has been a common practice for, well, a very long time. George Eliot is a nom de plume, as are George Orwell and George Sand. Though not a George, journalist Sarah Hall chose to publish her fiction under a different name. She writes for The Guardian about this decision, the history of the pen name, and the reasons authors continue to use them.
New this week: The Year of the Runaways by Sunjeev Sahota; The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien; Chicago by Brian Doyle; The Destroyer in the Glass by Noah Warren; Dothead by Amit Majmudar; Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead by Millions contributor Buzz Poole; and New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015 by Jay Parini. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
If you can’t sit through a 20-minute reading, this one’s for you. Even Dostoevsky hated literary readings. As his narrator puts it, “Generally I have observed that at a light, public literary reading, even the biggest genius cannot occupy the public with himself for more than 20 minutes with impunity.” Pair with this Millions essay on the lively and maybe lost art of the literary reading.
“There are people who believe that readers and writers—at least the right kind of readers and writers—are special snowflakes, existing on a more exalted plane than mere mortals. Book people are educated. They are privileged. They are brave enough to speak out when the emperor shows up naked. They sup on nectar from flowers grown on the sunny slopes of Mount Olympus, harvested by chiton-wearing MFA candidates.” Jennifer Weiner responds to bad Amazon reviews, book blogs, and elitist ” book people” in an essay for The New Republic. We especially enjoy the line about the chitons.
“Why should Serena not respond to racism? In whose world should it be answered with good manners? The notable difference between black excellence and white excellence is white excellence is achieved without having to battle racism. Imagine.” Claudia Rankine writes for The New York Times Magazine about tennis player Serena Williams, racism in sports, and white privilege. Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s list of books that “shed light on the history and evolution of racism in America.”