In his novels and plays, Sebastian Barry often focuses on segment of Irish society that tends to get ignored in literature — the Irishmen who fought for the British Empire in the first and second World Wars. At Full-Stop, John Cussen reads The Temporary Gentleman, which portrays a British officer, Jack McNulty, who sets out to write his memoirs. (Related: Matt Kavanagh wrote a piece for The Millions on Irish financial fiction after the crash of 2008.)
Janet Frame’s posthumous novel In the Memorial Room is out this week, as is a new e-book edition of Jack London’s The Sea Wolf. Also out: Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems by the onetime Poet Laureate William Stafford; a new biography of Alfred, Lord Tennyson; and the latest edition of The Best American Magazine Writing.
In its treatment of the poor, Britain may be “going back to the Middle Ages,” says Booker repeat winner Hilary Mantel. Indeed, she explains, “In some respects … Cromwell lived in a more enlightened time.” And she’s not the only high profile UK author to come to the side of government welfare these days. In a two–part interview for The Daily Show, J.K. Rowling notes that she couldn’t have written her first books without government “benefits.”
This week Margaret Atwood tweeted a photo of her and Alice Munro drinking champagne in a “secret lair.” There’s no denying it — technology has changed the way we tell stories. Atwood and 16 other writers, from Victor LaValle to Lee Child, discussed how technology influences their work in The New York Times. “There’s nothing worse for plots than cellphones. Once your characters have one, there’s no reason for them to get lost or stranded,” Rainbow Rowell said.
Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life might well be the only book in history to draw comparisons between creative writers and stunt pilots. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova calls attention to a description of Dave Rahm, the real-life pilot who inspired Dillard’s analogy.
George Saunders stopped by the Dinner Party podcast to dole out advice on topics ranging from constructing poems about wolves “making love,” dealing with a friend who’s been fired, sober-drunk relations, and “man purses.”
Some videos just make you want to write. Joe Capra‘s stunning timelapse video of Iceland’s “midnight sun” is one of them.