Recommended reading: The Believer interviews Claudia Rankine about Citizen: An American Lyric, the relationship between art and literature and the importance of “keeping present the forgotten bodies.”
Harold and the Purple Crayon is a classic children’s book. Is it also a writing guide? In an essay for Bookslut, Mairead Case explains why she re-reads it whenever she’s finishing a project: the main character’s need to create a room for himself is a corollary to the writing process.
Must female characters always stand in the shadow of the institution of marriage? Ivan Kreilkamp writes on female bachelors, from Renata Adler’s Speedboat to Elizabeth Hardwick’s Sleepless Nights. Pair with this Millions essay on Adler’s piecemeal novel.
Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwa has come back to haunt Salman Rushdie once again. Iran is threatening to boycott the Frankfurt Book Fair because Rushdie was invited to give the keynote speech. You could also read our essay on how Rushdie passed the time while in hiding.
“These sorts of connections are at the centre of nearly all time machine fiction. These novels usually draw attention to telling commonalities across historical eras, or between the past and the present. That gives an engaging puzzle quality to the books—we read seeking out the dropped clues that will shed light on the purpose of the parallel.” On fiction in which the plot takes place over multiple timelines.
"The author, whose novels thrum with ironic recurrences, might have been perversely pleased with this: thirty-six years after his death and twenty-two years after the fall of the Soviet Union with all its khudsovets, Vladimir Nabokov is, once again, controversial."
According to the title of Matt Steinglass' new essay (a qualified rebuttal of Katie Roiphe's recent piece "The Naked and the Conflicted"), "Today's Male Novelists Do Write Exuberant Sex Scenes, But Mostly Lesbian Ones"