“I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air… But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read.” Alice Munro writes about A Child’s History of England, the first book she ever read.
“I’ve learnt so much from this profound novelist about nuance, understatement, technique.” Eighteen handwritten homages to Jane Austen by well-known writers are up for auction until tomorrow. Margaret Atwood, Kazuo Ishiguro, Hilary Mantel, and Ian McEwan are among the authors whose tributes will raise funds for the Royal Society of Literature, reports The Guardian. And read our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen's Pride and Prejudice.
The 92nd Street Y is gearing up for next Monday's Celebration of Vladimir Nabokov, which falls on the eve of the publication of his last, unfinished novel, The Original of Laura. A recording of Nabokov's only reading at the 92nd Street Y was just posted at the 92Y Blog, and includes selections from Pale Fire and Lolita. Monday's event will feature Martin Amis and Chip Kidd, and a display of a dozen of Nabokov's 138 handwritten notecards, on which he composed the manuscript.
Jesmyn Ward signed a deal for two books with Simon & Schuster: one adult novel with Scribner and the other a middle-grade novel with Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, according to Publisher's Weekly. From our archives: Ward's 2017 Year in Reading entry and our interview with the two-time National Book Award winner.