“Bigger than the Zuckerberg Bump, bigger even than the Colbert Bump or the Oprah Bump—arguably the most historic bump in English publishing is the Sam Weller Bump.” A look at the surprising and overwhelming success of Dicken‘s first novel, The Pickwick Papers, from The Paris Review.
You may not expect much from a write-up about The Smiths’ new collected box set, Complete, but that’s about to change. In a phenomenal piece on the relationship between racial (in particular Asian) otherness and the UK band’s music, Sukhdev Sandhu explains how Morrissey’s “lyrics and persona mapped out a structure of feeling that spoke to my own floundering selfhood.”
“Recently, a friend told me she didn’t like pictures of herself because she never looked the way she thought she did in her head. I think this pretty much describes the universal horror that is looking at your own photos, and that’s why I love the selfie so much. It gives you all the controls to the story you are telling.” In defense of the selfie.
Today, stuff yourself on envy and/or nostalgia for the NYC literary life. First, whet your appetite on the New Yorker’s gorgeous illustrations of notable bookstores, including one “the size of a luxurious Park Avenue closet.” Continue to a responsible main course essay on Choire Sicha, The Awl, and the Brooklyn loft building where it was founded and resides: a place that is “pleasant” but “a little dumpy, too, because that’s sort of our MO.” For dessert, savor Erin Loeb’s personal essay on leaving New York, and finish with a fittingly varied cheese course of other writers also saying goodbye.
In Wayde Compton’s The Outer Harbour, a series of short stories take the reader from the present day to 2025, exploring a near-future Vancouver in which things grow steadily more surreal. As Emily Oppenheimer writes, it’s clearly a work of speculative fiction, yet the setting resembles our own world in uncanny ways. Sample quote: “Compton achieves the more troubling, yet ultimately more satisfying, goal of portraying the fantastical as something that is very much rooted in what we think we already know about ourselves and our world.”
James Tate Hill shares his experiences as a writer who cannot read. “When I say I can’t read, I’m not referring to illiteracy, but to the large blind spots in my central field of vision that put an end to my unremarkable driving career a few months after my 16th birthday.”
“Writers such as Gary Lutz, Diane Williams, Christine Schutt, and Noy Holland palpably employ, in somewhat different but observable ways, the strategy [Gordon] Lish calls ‘consecution,’ the focus on constructing and linking sentences by considering sound and rhythm as well as sense.” At Full-Stop, Daniel Green examines the editor’s influence in a piece on Noy Holland’s new book.