What should you do if, horror of horrors, you find yourself appearing as a character in someone else’s book? Michelle Huneven shares her experience being fictionalized in an essay for The Paris Review. Her advice? “Don’t read too much into it. Cultivate lightness.” Pair with our profile of Huneven, “Not Lost, Just Rearranged.”
“Storytelling, she added, is a central part of Native American life, and, inevitably an obsessive part of hers. ‘It’s probably the most selfish thing I do,’ she said. ‘Truly. I don’t do it for anyone else. I do it because I have the addict’s need to get lost in the story.’” Louise Erdrich discusses her new novel LaRose.
Our own Emily Mandel may have been onto something with her “catastrophic” summer reading list; dystopia seems to be all the rage this summer. The WSJ sets Rick Moody’s The Four Fingers of Death in “a dystopian United States that is halfway between Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano and Woody Allen’s Sleeper.” The SF Chron calls Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story “literature’s first dystopian epistolary romantic satire.” And later this year, as we noted this month, will be Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez, which focuses on a cultish community in the dystopian aftermath of a flu pandemic.
You’ll have to read this Curiosity to believe it! The surprise bestselling Time-Life series was wildly popular in the late 80s–but why? The answer is a bit less mysterious than one might have hoped. As a consolation, here’s a related essay from The Millions on conspiracy literature.
“Emily Brontë teaches us that fiction is not defined by what an author has done, but what an author has felt. To write is often to observe, not necessarily to experience. It is possible to be strong, independent, and still be at home; there is nothing limiting or weak about the ‘domestic’ life. Daily life is not to be avoided—in fact, it can be our most fruitful source of truth.” These and other helpful life lessons from the Brontë sisters over at The Daily Beast. How did the sisters even get their start as writers, anyway?
Out this week: Devil on the Cross by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o; Void Star by Zachary Mason; Sunshine State by Sarah Gerard; Double Bind, edited by Robin Romm; Often I Am Happy by Jens Christian Grøndahl; and Cave Dwellers by Richard Grant. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.