Growing up in California, our own Michael Bourne didn’t have a full sense of his own privilege until 1981, when a chance encounter with a group of teenagers dressed up as skeletons woke him up to the realities of segregation in America. In a long essay for Orange Coast Review, he goes over the meaning of that incident, complete with meditations on Marin County, his abandoned early novel and his family’s history in Danville, Virginia. Pair with: Michael’s piece for The Millions on Tess Taylor’s The Forage House.
Recommended reading (and doodling): an excerpt from an upcoming translation of Martin Solares‘s How to Draw a Novel, complete with diagrams and squiggling lines. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s look at authors’s methods for drawing and mapping their own novels-in-progress.
“So, each year, I can’t help but ask: Is there a political point to be made for calling non-book related detritus, tchotchkes, sparkly twinkly things, sidelines instead of gifts, as many of my esteemed colleagues insist on calling all things?” When it comes to the pressures of running an independent bookstore during the holidays, Lucy Kogler at The Literary Hub gets it very right. Our own Janet Potter has waxed poetic about bookstores, as well.
A striking photo of the Brontё sisters is not, in fact, a photo of the Brontё sisters. The women in the photo look a lot like them, but their hometown didn’t have much in the way of photography in the 1840s, and there isn’t any record of the Brontёs getting their photo taken. So how did the picture become known for being something it isn’t? At the LRB’s blog, Alice Spawls explains why. Pair with our own Edan Lepucki on Jane Eyre’s Mr. Rochester.
Some world literature links: Sign and Sight offers the best introduction to Herta Müller I’ve been able to find…The Complete Review gets the ball rolling on Roberto Bolaño’s (very) early novel Monsieur Pain, forthcoming from New Directions…Ingo Schulze, author of the quietly astonishing New Lives and the forthcoming One More Story, talks to The Toronto Star (via)…The NBCC features Yu Hua‘s Brothers…Claudio Magris is crowned the king of Frankfurt…Maud Newton hails Juan Gabriel Vásquez‘s “inventive and intricately plotted” The Informers…The Brooklyn Rail and Transcript both offer handsome online digests of short stories from around the world.
Max Porter’s Death Is the Thing With Feathers is a bizarre, beautiful book. Over at The Literary Hub, he talks death, writing, and musical theater with Catherine Lacey. Porter’s book came highly recommended by Garth Risk Hallberg in his 2015 Year in Reading for The Millions.
Philip Roth may have retired, but that doesn’t mean he’s done giving interviews. The author recently sat down with the editor of a Swedish newspaper, who talked with him about misogyny, Sabbath’s Theater and the need for “obstinacy” in a writer. (Related: our own Hannah Gersen reviewed Roth Unbound.) (h/t The Paris Review)