“The short story, as a form, has plenty of defenders,” the collection of unconnected short stories, maybe not so much. In an essay for LitHub, regular Millions contributor Jonathan Russell Clark praises the unlinked stories of Barbara the Slut and Other People and Single, Carefree, Mellow because “despite a lack of the wholeness of a novel, something complete and true and hard-won emerges by the end.”
"Baker is such a wonderful prose stylist that he could probably get away with publishing his diary—which, for epic stretches, is what Substitute feels like." Over at The Nation, Evan Kindley reviews Nicholson Baker's latest, a 700-plus-page non-fiction exploration of substitute teaching. Spoiler: it's not as sexy as Baker's other work. If it's the sex you want, see our primer on Baker's novels; also immensely entertaining, our interview with the author from 2013.
“America has always been able to countenance beggars, short-con men, and nine-to-fivers who just can’t get ahead, but we’ve never known what to do with the type of person who could have been really big but chose not to make the concessions required.” The Believer takes a look at the paradox of Nelson Algren.
Forgive us for being slow on the uptake, Colorado residents, but this is the first I'm hearing of Aspen Public Radio's First Draft radio show, which features interviews with numerous authors of wide acclaim. A casual glance at the show's online archives, for instance, turns up the likes of Paul Harding, Kevin Barry, Laura van den Berg, Edwidge Danticat, and Ben Fountain. (h/t Edan Lepucki)
"We editors told ourselves the naked women were merely carnival barkers: they got an audience into the tent, but we kept them with the content." In the Guardian, Playboy's former fiction editor Amy Grace Loyd reveals what it was like to work at the magazine and how she commissioned work from writers like Donna Tartt, Margaret Atwood, and Junot Díaz. Read our review of Loyd's debut novel, The Affairs of Others.
Nobody wants to be a Hufflepuff! Over at The Atlantic, David Sims defends the oft-maligned Harry Potter house for their egalitarian ethos and general goodness. At The Millions, Michelle Dean’s essay about the value of J.K. Rowling’s Potter series will have you wanting to give them a re-read.