It was the height of the feminist revolution and one man was trying, unsuccessfully, to publish a book about a man amidst a midlife crisis. 25 years later, Esquire editor Gordon Lish read sections of An Armful of Warm Girl in a literary magazine and demanded that Knopf reconsider publishing it (they did). This week over at Bloom, Nicki Leone dives into the work of W.M. Spackman, the man often referred to as “Fitzgerald‘s literary heir.”
Meet Shondaland, a new website created by Shonda Rhimes and dedicated to storytelling that launched this week. One of their most recent posts highlights 28 books to read this fall. We know there’s a lot of reading recommendation lists around this time of year (like our September preview) but we appreciate the diversity of this list in particular and its willingness to hold back judgment if we don’t finish all the suggestions. Pair with our interview with Jesmyn Ward (whose Sing, Unburied Sing made the list), along with Year in Reading alum Eleanor Henderson’s Twelve Mile Straight.
“There is one rule [to writing biography] that all who try their hand at it come to know: until the protagonist reveals his or her character—his or her inner self—what the biographer produces is less a life than a report, an autopsy rather than the record of a séance.” David Levering Lewis writes for The American Scholar about biography and writing “the lives of African-American figures, and [finding] in them the story of our times.”
Over at the New Yorker, Akhil Sharma argues that “Anton Chekhov’s “Sakhalin Island“, his long investigation of prison conditions in Siberia, is the best work of journalism written in the nineteenth century.” Pair Sharma’s argument, and admiration, with our own Sonya Chung‘s “I Heart Checkov” essay.
Our own Edan Lepucki (who has a novel coming out soon, by the way…) interviewed four of the finalists for this year’s National Book Awards: Tenth of December author George Saunders, The Lowland author Jhumpa Lahiri, The Good Lord Bird author James McBride, and The Flamethrowers author Rachel Kushner. We reviewed both Saunders and Kushner’s works here and here, respectively, and you can also take a look at the rest of the NBA finalists over here.