The novelist Julie Schumacher wrote her latest, Dear Committee Members, entirely in the form of letters of recommendation. The format allowed her to illustrate the travails of a creative writing professor through a medium often ignored in fiction. At The Awl, Jessica Gross and Merve Emre talk about the novel. Pair with: Cathy Day on academia’s novel crisis.
Recommended Reading: This piece by Elisa Gabbert at Guernica Magazine in which she questions whether certain ideas can survive new shifts in language. It’s too bad she didn’t write it in emoji.
This year’s Whiting Award winners have been announced. The award recognizes “ten emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry, and are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior work to come.” The winners include Catherine Lacey (of Nobody Is Ever Missing); Alice Sola Kim (of Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying); and Ocean Vuong (of Night Sky with Exit Wounds, among other books).
What are college freshman reading? NPR shares a few selections from around the country. A recent study found that “The list of readings continues to be dominated by recent, trendy, and intellectually unchallenging books.” Our own Nick Ripatrazone writes about the difference between teaching high school and college students.
Bill Morris, clearly maneuvering for the title of Motor City Poet Laureate, follows up his piece on Detroit’s comeback with a vivid account of Lion legend Alex Karras. “Karras will always be a pink giant with a towel wrapped around his waist,” Morris writes.
It almost sounds too terrifying to be true. Your book is reviewed by Christopher Hitchens in the New York Times Book Review and he opens with: “This is an extraordinarily irritating book” (and it gets worse from there, and deservedly so). It happened to David Mamet and his new book The Secret Knowledge.
Out this week: Andrew’s Brain by E.L. Doctorow; Perfect by Rachel Joyce; A Highly Unlikely Scenario by Rachel Cantor; Selected Letters of Robert Creeley; The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart; and new paperback editions of Karen Russell’s Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Kurt Vonnegut’s Letters and Year in Reading favorite Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers.