As Amy Bloom remembers it, the inspiration for her most recent novel came from two sources: the mythos of Old Hollywood and the criminal history of her own family. In The Guardian, she recounts the genesis of Lucky Us, with brief descriptions of her family’s rap sheet.
The Virginia Quarterly Review launched their redesigned website this week, and it’s a sight to behold. To celebrate the occasion, the magazine has dropped its paywall through Valentine’s Day, so start exploring. I recommend starting with Kevin Young’s recent poem, “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out,” which he composed entirely out of song lyrics.
You should check out George Saunders’s “Liner Notes” piece about “2776: A Musical Journey Through America’s Past, Present & Future,” which is set to accompany a forthcoming musical-comedy album from Patton Oswalt, Aubrey Plaza, Ira Glass, and Yo La Tengo, among others. If that hasn’t sold you, consider the fact that Saunders’s piece contains this line: “Truth be told, there were a number of regrettable omissions. Beyoncé and Jay Z’s piece ‘Bomber’ had to be left off the album. (‘Driver of this plane, this / B-52 on the way to Nagasaki / Stuff your ears with cotton and / Close those eyes / Me and my man are about to do it all over this / Here bomb’).”
The Netflix-like book subscription service Oyster Books has shut down and most of its team is heading over to Google. Google is reluctant to admit that Oyster was a purchase, yet sources indicate they will begin paying investors for the right to hire most of their staff. As we wave goodbye, here is one last read from The Oyster Review.
Some writers find their voices by heading off to Europe. Others (like Thoreau in Walden) head off to the woods instead. At The Rumpus, David Biespiel writes about the year he moved to Vermont, and what it meant to see himself as "leaning into" his youth. Pair with our own Anne K. Yoder on Ken Kesey and the Oregon coast.
At The Awl, James S. Murphy goes in-depth on the Stony Brook study, which I wrote about last week, that identified characteristics of historically successful books. In making a point about the publishing industry, he references the sale of our own Garth Risk Hallberg’s debut novel.