Alice Bolin writes for The Believer about Joan Didion, Los Angeles, and Play It As It Lays. The novel was also listed as one of The Millions‘s “Burnt-out Summer Reads,” so if there’s ever a time to read it, it’s probably now.
You may have heard that E.L. Doctorow passed away last week. The Ragtime and Billy Bathgate author was known for his mastery of historical fiction. At The Guardian, Michael Chabon offers a tribute, arguing that Doctorow found a way out of the binary trap between postmodernism and realism.
“Yes, they believed I was a dangerous person, unpredictable, and I observed that I really scared them. Sometimes I noted that the guards looked at me as judges. Their look translated to me as ‘gorilla, stay in your cage!’ When soldiers were off-duty, they came to gawk at me with a sense of wonder. Sometime they would throw me a piece of meat or something sweet, just like to an animal. The old EZ: an exciting and fascinating sight.” Ezra Pound reflects on his time in an Italian prison.
The ongoing Hachette vs. Amazon feud has writers and publishers up in arms, but according to the Society of Authors there are no heroes in publishing.
Another big week for books is headlined by Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue (the book’s opening lines) and Junot Díaz’s This Is How You Lose Her. Also out are Susan Straight’s Between Heaven and Here, touted debuts The People of Forever Are Not Afraid by Shani Boianjiu and The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers, How Music Works by Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and Bob Woodward’s latest Beltway tick-tock The Price of Politics.
“Is the reason to have a home, as the narrator in Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation, asserts, ‘to keep certain people in and everyone else out’? Or does home, as the narrator in William Maxwell’s autobiographical novel So Long, See You Tomorrow suggests, work primarily as a scaffolding of known things — as a place to read, a place to stash the damp umbrella, a place to listen to the porch swing creak?” Beth Kephart on the literary significance of home.