The office novel, by nature, is a tricky construct, if only because your average white-collar job doesn’t offer much in the way of fiction-worthy moments. That said, recent books like Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris demonstrate how fruitful it can be to wring drama out of the rat race. In the latest issue of Dissent, Cubed author Nikil Saval delves into the contradictions of office fiction. FYI, Saval wrote a Year in Reading entry for us.
Have some fun with this New York specific feature highlighted by Atlas Obscura. The New York Society Library is private member-based library and it has some pretty famous members, going all the way back to Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. Due to the library's excellent record keeping you can trace these famous members reading histories. "In the early 20th century, Library staff switched from big, blank ledger books to index cards for record keeping. Henceforth they archived cards only for “prominent” members, discarding the rest. The gap is major, but the surviving cards offer a lifetime of book recommendations."
“The first section of the book inevitably ends up taking on a Rashomon-ic quality, as Sotatsu’s father, mother, brother and sister all get their say about what transpired during his time in prison, along with a prison guard who observed him. But [Jesse] Ball doesn’t let them fall into the he said-she said realm of one-note characters — these are fully fleshed-out people, whose thoughts, emotions and agendas are as real (and sometimes as contradictory) as your own.” On Silence Once Begun.
Friends, former students and admirers are rallying around poet Dean Young. Young, who has taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and a number of other MFA programs, is in need of a heart transplant, and fellow poet Tony Hoagland has put out a call for help. (Thanks Arna)
"While I'm glad we've had this chance to talk, because of time constraints I cannot answer these basic questions about race and how racism works." Colson Whitehead considers new business cards. See our review of his Pulitzer-winning The Underground Railroad here.
"War isn’t a destination, nor is it a topic to be mined for scribes with nothing else to say ... War can be a subject, like any other, and it can be written about well, and it can be written about poorly." Here is Matt Gallagher, author of the Iraq-war novel Youngblood, in an interview with J.T. Price at Bomb. Last week, Gallagher interviewed another great young novelist/veteran (and winner of the 2014 National Book Award in fiction), Phil Klay.