“In eleven years, I’ve written four books: three novels and one story collection. Only the story collection has ever seen the light of day; the first two novels, including my thesis, were never published and the third novel is making the rounds with agents right now. I’d like to believe I’ve learned a few things about how fiction works over this time, but perhaps it is more accurate to write that I have learned how my fiction does – or in many cases, does not – work.” Michael Nye, who’s written for us before, shares his “Lessons in Failure and Writing a Novel” on the Missouri Review blog.
Out this week: The Early Stories of Truman Capote; Slade House by David Mitchell; After Alice by Gregory Maguire; Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell; The British Lion by Tony Schumacher; We Five by Mark Dunn; and a book of quotations by Cheryl Strayed. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
What does Jonathan Franzen think of the cover for Freedom? What about Charlotte Strick, the book’s designer? Or the photographers that took photos of those trees, of that blue warbler? Talking Covers has collected their thoughts, and plays host to other cover-related conversations besides. Check out this one The Flame Alphabet.
“As energy loss is an unavoidable fact of mechanics — no mechanism can be 100% efficient, and the best a designer can do is manage the loss as productively as possible — so translation loss is similarly unavoidable,” explains Mark Davie, who recently translated Galileo’s Selected Writings. But what if the “energy loss” isn’t a failure of the work’s translator so much as a failure of the organization commissioning (or failing to commission) the translation? What if, as is the case for much Arabic literature, “the process [of selecting works for translation] is based on a political consideration” that deprives Western readers of the best Arabic literary work?
“The Disney character I most strongly identify with is the Beast before he learns how not to emotionally attack everyone around him, so.” Over at The Toast, Mallory Ortberg tells us why she is the perfect candidate for the job of Fisher King. T.S. Eliot would be proud. Or likely horrified.
As you may have heard, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the passing of Sylvia Plath. It also, not coincidentally, marks the release of two new biographies: American Isis (the first to draw material from the recently-opened Ted Hughes archive) and Mad Girl’s Love Song (which looks at the poet’s relationship with her “big, dark, hunky boy”). Emma Garman weighs the impact of all this new scholarship at Salon.