Recommended reading: Jeff VanderMeer, author of the Southern Reach trilogy, writes for The Atlantic about the “surreal journey” of publishing three novels in one year. Pair with VanderMeer’s Millions interview with Richard House.
In light of this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, which had Indonesia as the official guest of honor, check out Wayan Sunarta’s essay on the rise of Indonesian literature abroad. As he explains it, “Although Indonesian literature is in the ascendant at home, it has so far failed to establish itself internationally. The number of works translated from Indonesian is still very small.”
"All I know was that in Paris I felt haunted, like a double exposure photograph that shows a figure and then a milky specter behind. I felt stalked by a creature of my own making, a monster that was both my mother and myself." Darcey Steinke writes about Paris, loss, and monsters in an essay for Granta.
Following up their publication of Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches" online, the Oxford American brings us a speech in verse by Jay Jennings, the editor of a recent compilation of Portis’s work (which our own Bill Morris reviewed). Jennings delivered an ode to Portis to mark the author winning the Porter Prize Lifetime Achievement Award. Sample quote: “But you read the next book because the main character was from Little Rock,/and you knew no other book where the main character was from Little Rock/and you wanted to write a book about Little Rock."
“In a new biography, The Lady with the Borzoi: Blanche Knopf, Literary Tastemaker Extraordinaire (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Laura Claridge argues that Blanche Knopf was actually the more important and influential of the two Knopfs. That’s a stretch, but her book is still a long-overdue acknowledgment of the pioneering role Blanche played at a time when women were nearly invisible in the business world.” Find out more about Blanche Knopf at The New Yorker. Edan Lepucki’s 2011-2012 list on why not to self-publish is still relevant.
“There was an inefficient system in place, and what I did was subvert it by an external rotation of reluctant holly jollies. Nasally, I came to understand that light is a thing that is produced through the collision of particulates, and boy isn’t that the truth.” As part of their year-end review, McSweeney’s republished their ten most popular pieces of 2014, including the above. Its title? “Donald Barthelme Narrates the Progress of the Reindeer.”