“Wallace’s fiction contains enormous cruelty… But it is also a deeply moral body of work. Its difficulties, and many of its cruelties, exist for specific reasons. Whether Wallace’s fraught projects are successes or failures is up to the individual, but these are judgments that all serious readers should want to make for themselves.” Chris Power considers David Foster Wallace‘s short stories in an essay for The Guardian and argues that after Infinite Jest they just might be the most important work he produced.
“By casting my book as personal rather than professional—by marketing me as a woman on a journey of self-discovery, rather than a reporter on a groundbreaking assignment—I was effectively being stripped of my expertise on the subject I knew best.” Suki Kim on writing a work of investigative journalism that was miscategorized as memoir. Pair with this Millions piece in defense of memoirs.
Out this week: All the Rage by A.L. Kennedy; The Confabulist by Stephen Galloway; Fallout by Sadie Jones; The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson; With My Dog Eyes by Hilda Hilst; Ruby by Cynthia Bond; and The Informed Air by Muriel Spark. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
for actors who've considered suicide/when the matrix isn't enuf: Keanu Reeves, who some years ago raised hackles when he played Shakespeare's melancholy Dane, has now written a book-length poem called Ode to Happiness that pokes fun at excessive melancholy. "I draw a hot sorrow bath/In my despair room," it begins.
We've linked to infographics about the life cycle of translated books, but that doesn't cover the difficulties inherent in translation itself. The New Yorker's latest Out Loud podcast tackles this subject as Adam Gopnik talks with Ann Goldstein and Sasha Weiss about priorities in translation and how we identify with the languages we use.
"That’s always been part of my goal — to show the dark side of women. Men write about bad men all the time, and they’re called antiheroes. ... What I read and what I go to the movies for is not to find a best friend, not to find inspirations, not necessarily for a hero’s journey. It’s to be involved with characters that are maybe incredibly different from me, that may be incredibly bad but that feel authentic." Gillian Flynn and Cheryl Strayed talk with The New York Times about the adaptations for Gone Girl, Wild, and writing credible characters. Their conversation pairs well with our own Edan Lepucki's essay on likability in fiction.
When did Twitter turn into a place of public shame, outrage, and apology? Alexander Chee examines the changing culture in an essay for Dame Magazine. "Oh, Internet, place of the ultimate writerly paradox, where things you write quickly for little or no money last forever." Our own Mark O'Connell explored something similar in his New Yorker essay on the public humiliation of regrettable tweets.