John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats fame has a debut novel, Wolf in White Van, longlisted for the National Book Award, and Dwight Garner reviews the “strange and involving” novel for The New York Times.
Most readers have their own idiosyncratic systems for displaying the most valuable titles they own. For a lot of people, it makes the most sense to keep their favorite books on a particular shelf. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein writes about an odd phenomenon — “The Phantom Shelf,” which consists of books you love so much you had to lend them to friends. (Related: Kevin Hartnett on reading our parents’ bookshelves.)
“No one took this further, with more imagination and daring…At a time when American groups would often dress down—affluent suburban kids disguised as Appalachian farmers or Canadian lumberjacks – Bowie quite deliberately dressed up.” David Bowie’s sartorial legacy.
Anya Ulinich, author of Petropolis, talks to World Literature Today: “What else can a person do when she gets home after a ten-hour work day – with a toothache that she can’t afford to fix . . . – but fall on the couch and watch whatever is in front of her face?” . . . Lydia Davis, whose Collected Stories is just out, talks to Sarah Manguso for The Believer: “At the origin of the work there has to be strong feeling, if it’s going to be any good. Of course, that strong feeling can be a delight in language.” . . . The Book Bench unearths a 1978 John Updike interview with a Croation periodical, which finds the Rabbit Angstrom author halfway through his tetralogy. . . . Edwin Frank of NYRB Classics talks to Omnivoracious, and selects his favorite books in the series (via). . . . And James Ellroy submits to interrogation at The Paris Review: “I was always thinking about how I would become a great novelist.”
Is the practice of using writing as a metaphor for birth, or birth as a metaphor for writing, in need of an overhaul? Stephanie Feldman for Electric Literature has some strong opinions on the subject. Motherhood on the brain, now? Check out this moving essay for The Millions on mothers and sons by Rachel Basch.
In this week’s New York Times Magazine, a collaboration with ProPublica has produced a 13,000-word (!) article on what happened at New Orleans Memorial Medial Center where a number of patients died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Who says long-form journalism is dead!
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is almost as famous for being sampled on Beyoncé’s latest album as she is for her novel Americanah. With that in mind, she discussed her writing process, hair blogs, and what feminism means to her in Elle. “It means that I am present in the world, and that I realize that there is a problem with the way we’ve constructed gender,” she said. For more Adichie, read her 2013 Year in Reading post.