Laila Lalami recently wrote about “How History Becomes Story,” but writing an interesting and compelling history book sans fiction has its own challenges. Thankfully S.C. Gwynne offers some tips in a piece for the History News Network, including the hard-hitting reminder that “it is your job to force your facts into narrative form.”
Geoff Nicholson of the New York Times compares the rules of drinking and the rules of writing in light of the recent reissue of famous cocktail guide The Hour (with a new introduction by Daniel Handler, otherwise known as Lemony Snicket).
During the production of his classic film, Man of Aran, Robert Flaherty also directed an 11-minute short entitled Oidhche Sheanchais (“A Night of Storytelling”). It’s widely considered to be the first film recorded in the Irish language. For years, all extant copies were believed to be lost in a fire, but recently, researchers at Harvard’s Houghton Library rediscovered a nitrate print of the film.
Out this week: The Complete Journalism of James Agee; Straight Razor by Randall Mann; The Long Voyage: Selected Letters of Malcolm Cowley; The Virgil Encyclopedia; and a new e-book edition of Incarnadine, the poetry collection by Mary Szybist that won this year’s National Book Award.
Writing for Banned Books Month on the PEN American Center’s blog, our own Lydia Kiesling discusses Judy Blume’s Forever. It’s a book many have “lobbied vigorously to pry … out of the hands of enthralled youth since 1975,” Kiesling writes, which should prove that such lobbyists “weren’t very good readers” in the first place.
The New Yorker has published another recently discovered Shirley Jackson short story “The Man in the Woods,” a fairy tale that takes on some classic mythology. According to her son, it’s one of many new stories found in her archives, and we can expect a new collection next year. “What was surprising to us was not that she was so prolific and had left behind so much unseen work but, rather, the quality of that work,” Laurence Jackson Hyman said.
Year in Reading Alum Alexander Chee reviews Rick Moody’s latest release, Hotels of North America. “The present is too cruel for him, and yet he cannot change it, so there is this instead, sentence by sentence, a nod to the past that is really a nod to his own past. A conflation of his nostalgia for the days of his sexual attractiveness and the unencumbered power of white men, all of it dressed up as a love for old words.” To hear more from Moody, check out our recent interview with him.
Hungarian author and 2002 Nobel Prize winner Imre Kertész announced his retirement, reports Nicolas Gary in the French publication ActuaLitté. (Link to Google’s translation into English.) As a “gesture of reconciliation” the Fatelessness author and Holocaust survivor has decided to give nearly 35,000 of his papers to the Academy of Arts in Berlin. Meanwhile, Kertész has recently had several of his shorter works released in handsome Melville House editions. (h/t Hari Kunzru)