Peter Mendelsund writes for the Paris Review about how we see, or think we see, fictional characters. “Characters are ciphers. … We are ever reviewing and reconsidering our mental portraits of characters in novels: amending them, backtracking to check on them, updating them when new information arises.”
Matthew Salesses, whose forthcoming novel-in-stories I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying (excerpt here) will publish in February, has started writing a book (on Tumblr) “(not) about adoption.” As Salesses notes in the blog’s first post, his new project “is not to be a memoir, or an op-ed, or a travel narrative, or an answer to anyone …This is to be the story of finding out.”
Carve out some time to watch all forty-five minutes of Zadie Smith and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s recent “Between the Lines” conversation if you want to find out why Americanah qualifies as Adichie’s “fuck you” book. (You can also just skip to the 16:16 mark if you’re unable to carve out enough time.)
When street art and literature combine: on “The Moving, Playful Poetry of the World’s Textual Graffiti Artists,” from Slate.
Who’s the Jimi Hendrix of Wordstock? Though it is unlikely to become a lasting cultural landmark the caliber of Woodstock, the recent Wordstock festival in Portland was nonetheless a runaway success for its 6,000 attendees. This piece on the London Book Fair has a decidedly different tone.
Two weeks ago, Tod Goldberg came out with a new novel, Gangsterland, that centers on a hit man in the Chicago Mafia. At The Nervous Breakdown, you can read an excerpt of the novel, as well as one of their trademark self-interviews, in which Goldberg explains that for the past three years, he’s been “writing and writing and writing. But sometimes, that just means I’m not writing at all.” You could also read the author’s dispatch from AWP.
Now that summer’s nearly over (I know, I know, but I’m looking forward to fall. As if you can blame me) there’s a history of summer reading in the Boston Globe. And if you’re looking to squeeze in a good summery book this weekend, we’ve still got you covered, with our list of literary sizzlers. Get ’em while it’s hot.