"I certainly didn’t want to do something that felt as if I was having a séance. I started with her most personal papers. I wanted her interior voice; I didn’t want the formal writing. I went immediately to her diaries and letters and to the commonplace books. From there I started looking at the marginalia because I was getting a sense of wanting to know what was on her mind while she was writing in her journals." Lynell George conducted a posthumous interview with Octavia Butler, Bomb magazine talked to her about the process. Pair it with this essay on slavery in fiction from our own Edan Lepucki.
The Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin has signed on to adapt a biopic about Steve Jobs (not to be confused with the Ashton Kutcher one) which will be based on Walter Isaacson’s biography of the same name. Meanwhile, as the news was announced, Sorkin gave a memorable commencement address at Syracuse University.
More than ever, we need literature that gives Westerners a compelling entrée into—a way of better understanding—the lives of war-and-terrorism fraught regions. Over at Bloom, T.L. Khleif, recent recipient of a Rona Jaffe award, writes about Jamil Ahmad’s The Wandering Falcon, a collection that immerses readers in the tribal areas of Pakistan prior to the rise of the Taliban. Among other notable honors, Ahmad joins the pantheon of late-blooming male authors who would not have ever published were it not for the stubborn encouragement of their wives.
Don't expect to hear from Alan Moore anytime soon. He is withdrawing from public life after accusations that his comics include racist characters and too much sexual violence toward women according to an interview with Pádraig Ó Méalóid. He also took the opportunity to disparage society's obsession with superheroes, which probably won't win him any more fans. "To my mind, this embracing of what were unambiguously children's characters at their mid-20th century inception seems to indicate a retreat from the admittedly overwhelming complexities of modern existence."
Leveling the kind of accusation that perhaps only such an esteemed writer can, Jonathan Franzen intimates that David Foster Wallace's nonfiction (such as "Shipping Out") wasn't exactly honest.
Christopher Higgs was teaching Grace Krilanovich’s The Orange Eats Creeps, and one of his students was inspired to make a mixtape featuring “the twisted, crusty, and often sublime characters found within the novel.” (The book, by the way, was one of my selections for Year in Reading last year.)
For the first time ever, this year's National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" winners are all women. Congrats to Molly Antopol (The UnAmericans), NoViolet Bulawayo (We Need New Names, which was also just shortlisted for The Booker Prize), Amanda Coplin (The Orchardist), Daisy Hildyard (Hunters in the Snow), and Merritt Tierce (Love Me Back).