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.”
Daniel Woodrell was so busy dodging bill collectors that he almost missed a telegram from an agent interested in his first novel, Under the Bright Lights. He discusses his writing career, the film adaptation of Winter’s Bone, and how he’s used the same coffee mug since 1974 for The Daily Beast’s “How I Write” series.
It’s a quiet week for new books. David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which famously became a blockbuster bestseller after being released as a paperback original, is now available in hardcover for the first time ever in the U.S., thanks to a new Modern Library Edition. Short story master Tessa Hadley has a new collection out, Married Love, (as a paperback original, coincidentally).
After thirty years, Larry Kramer has finished his novel The American People, which he prefers to consider a new form of nonfiction. In the novel, a narrator based largely on Kramer writes a historical expose, also titled The American People, in which numerous American icons are described as having been gay. As Kramer says, he wrote the book in part out of a feeling that gay people are excluded from history books.
Following up her post about Judy Blume’s Forever, our own Lydia Kiesling writes about Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita for PEN American Center’s ongoing series for Banned Books Month. It’s a book, Kiesling writes, which serves as an “exhibition of a uniquely talented person at the zenith of his powers.” (This isn’t the first time she’s discussed the book, by the way.)