The Great Gatsby, that quintessential American classic, was first published 90 years ago today. Over at Scribner Magazine authors ranging from Anthony Doerr to Christopher Beha remember their first encounters with the novel, and Time has republished its original review of the novel.
The correspondence of Vladimir Nabokov and the critic Edmund Wilson suffered from Wilson’s inability to appreciate Nabokov’s work. But by the spring of 1950, illness had affected both men to the point where a skilled correspondent in the ways of the U.S. mail became “a panacea to pain.”
“’When I finish reading one of her stories, I always feel understood and somehow forgiven for being human,’ Mr. George said. ‘It may simply come down to wisdom. Like the greats, Edith has it.'” Steve Almond gives an overview of Edith Pearlman‘s writing and publication history for The New York Times Book Review in the wake of the release of her latest collection, Honeydew, which Josh Cook recently reviewed for The Millions.
In The New York Times, Dwight Garner reviews John Carey’s biography William Golding: The Man Who Wrote “Lord of the Flies”: “It may not be a surprise to learn that the British novelist … did not have a happy childhood. But the details will put a sweat on your forehead.”
New writers need to trust themselves, Marilynne Robinson advises in an interview with Thessaly La Force for VICE. “The idea that you might do something radically brilliant—that assumption is very empowering and it has given the world a lot of really interesting things to look at,” she said.
Amazon has unveiled its “Kindle Singles” store. Says Amazon: “Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, each Kindle Single is intended to allow a single killer idea — well researched, well argued and well illustrated — to be expressed at its natural length.” In practice, this appears to mean short stories as well as journalistic pieces that have (perhaps) been expanded upon. For example, a piece from n+1 is included, “Octomom and the Politics of Babies” by Mark Greif. Amazon writes that in this piece Greif “updates his insightful essay from last spring, where only the journal’s 10,000 readers had access to his dead-on critique of the American media culture that produced its own eight-headed monster.” Bottom line: Amazon is fishing for higher quality content at the low price points that Amazon readers have come to crave.
There’s been an incredible amount of both excitement and controversy ever since Harper Lee‘s publisher announced the upcoming publication of Go Set a Watchman, the reclusive author’s second novel. But in a piece for Ploughshares Cathe Shubert wonders “Why not marvel at what all this hullabaloo in the news really signifies: that books still matter, deeply, to the American public–especially books that spark dialogue about interracial relations, justice, and, as Atticus would say, walking in another person’s shoes.”
“Maybe in the future I’ll feel compelled to write that kind of specific and current book, but right now I feel that my strength as a fiction writer is my ability to take a step back. I prefer to create a more metaphorical story that people can apply to a variety of situations, personal and political.” Electric Literature interviews Kazuo Ishiguro about his most recent novel, The Buried Giant, which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed here.