What if the next crisis to hit the headlines brings an end to the world as we know it? It’s a mind-bending thing to contemplate, but it’s what our own Emily St. John Mandel tackles in Station Eleven, which made it up to the final five of last year’s National Book Awards. On a new episode of The Takeaway, Emily talks about the novel, exploring what’s left when civilization withers away. You could also read our interview with Emily about the book.
The Tournament of Books declares a winner! It was down to two in the last round: Jonathan Franzen's Freedom (called "big, messy, flawed, enraging, and engrossing" by C. Max Magee, one of the final round judges) and Jennifer Egan's A Visit From the Goon Squad (which "ached with feeling and tension...") Find out who won at The Morning News!
The Quarterly Conversation is kicking off its new "Long Essays" e-book series with Lady Chatterley's Brother: Why Nicholson Baker Can't Write About Sex, and Why Javier Marias Can.
I really dug this write up of a visit by Edward P. Jones to a Seattle high school, where he talked to some kids about being a writer. I'm fascinated by Jones' persona. He's not a hermit, but neither is he a part of the more public contemporary literary crowd, all of whom seem to be associated with the same causes and who enjoy this sort of literary pseudo-fame while at the same time making a bit of a show about shying away from it. Of course I'm overgeneralizing here, but I'm sure you can think of some writers who might fit that description. I suppose my larger point is Jones seems to me to be a writer who, in an earlier time, would have only achieved fame late in his career or even posthumously, and I'm just really glad that he has gotten the acclaim that he deserves.I saw the movie Fever Pitch last night and enjoyed the way last year's baseball season was woven into the story so well. It also made me very curious to read Nick Hornby's novel by the same name, in which the protagonist is a rabid soccer fan. I'm not a big Hornby fan, but I'm very curious to see if they managed to swap out the sport at the center of the story while keeping the same overall feeling. Quite a feat if they managed to do a good job of it. One thing is clear though, trying to slap a movie tie-in cover on Hornby's book wouldn't have worked very well.Rodger Jacobs has set up a blog to track entries in his "Fitzgerald in Hollywood Short Fiction Contest."Chicagoist looks at books "with local ties." I've read All This Heavenly Glory and Gods in Alabama, but the third book The Week You Weren't Here by Charles Blackstone sounds interesting.
What's the one question you should never ask a writer starting a new book: how's the writing going? "Nothing can damage a novel in embryo as quickly and effectively as trying to describe it before it’s ready," Mark Slouka writes. Follow his advice for how to keep your writer friends.
Last week, I pointed readers to a Page-Turner essay by Amy Bloom, whose new novel, Lucky Us, came out on Tuesday. Now, as part of the By the Book series in the Times, she talks about her summertime reads, her first picture book and who she’d invite to a literary dinner party. (FYI, we’ve written about the series before.)
“Armand’s characters all seem both hugely present and in life’s juice and simultaneously dead, as if rent of brain, nerves, chest, stomach, intestines … Without gods and devils these patients feel that only fire can save them, existing eternally unless burned away.” Australian novelist Louis Armand’s newest, Abacus, is reviewed by Richard Marshall at 3:AM Magazine.