With the advent of e-readers, books on the subway are getting harder and harder to spot. It takes dedication to get a sense of what people are reading these days. At The Awl, Ben Dolnick sets out to catalogue a week’s worth of sightings, which included a man reading Cloud Atlas and The Stranger and a teenage girl reading Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. You could also read our own Nick Moran on the question of whether e-readers are really green.
“That’s always been part of my goal — to show the dark side of women. Men write about bad men all the time, and they’re called antiheroes. … What I read and what I go to the movies for is not to find a best friend, not to find inspirations, not necessarily for a hero’s journey. It’s to be involved with characters that are maybe incredibly different from me, that may be incredibly bad but that feel authentic.” Gillian Flynn and Cheryl Strayed talk with The New York Times about the adaptations for Gone Girl, Wild, and writing credible characters. Their conversation pairs well with our own Edan Lepucki‘s essay on likability in fiction.
The Silent History is being billed as a “new kind of novel.” Readers download a free app for their iOS devices and, over a period of six months, the app will deliver brief, serialized installments of an “exploratory novel.” Certain features of the story depend on your geographic location, and readers also have the opportunity to contribute their own features. For a full primer, as well as interview with Eli Horowitz, one of the “key figures” behind the idea, head over to VQR’s website.
This September, OR Books will publish Tales of Two Cities, an anthology of short fiction focused on economic inequality in New York City. Among its contributors are some familiar names: Junot Díaz, Lydia Davis, Dave Eggers, Colum McCann, Téa Obreht, Zadie Smith, and Teju Cole. The volume will also be illustrated by Molly Crabapple, whose Occupy Wall Street portraits earned critical acclaim in 2012.
Aspiring writers who’ve long dreamed of critical acclaim will no doubt be slightly miffed at Tana French’s admission that her writing “happened by accident.” As the former actress explains to The Guardian, writing In the Woods was a subconscious, almost involuntary experience: “I thought I could never write a proper book, I’d never done it before. But I thought I could write a sequence. Then I had a chapter.”
“It is the persistent, damning mischaracterisation of Zelda as ‘insane’ that most needs undoing. The trouble lies in the diagnosis she was given in 1930: ‘schizophrenia’. While today we know it to mean severe mental illness requiring delicate and often lifelong treatment with medications, therapies, and sometimes institutionalisation, in Zelda’s time it was a catch-all label for a range of emotional difficulties.” Reexamining the life and reputation of Zelda Fitzgerald.
When Kurt Vonnegut wasn’t writing, he was drawing. “The making of pictures is to writing what laughing gas is to the Asian influenza,” he said. The New Yorker has a slideshow of 10 of his cubist sketches. You can find more of his doodles in the new book Kurt Vonnegut Drawings.