New this week: The Dying Grass by William T. Vollmann; Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal; Gonzo Girl by Cheryl Della Pietra; How to Be a Grown-Up by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus; Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans; and The Night Stages by Jane Urquhart. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
"Sometimes I think I’ve lost my nerve a little bit. I think it’s growing older, and a certain reservoir of anger literally runs out." The Guardian interviews James Wood, author and book critic at The New Yorker, about his craft, his forthcoming novel Upstate, and the landscape of today's literary criticism. Pair with: an essay about the greatness (and great influence) of Wood on a fellow novelist.
"How can you write a complete story without a conventional plot? We often hear that in short stories, the main character must change. But in some stories, including some by Grace Paley, the characters don’t change. Instead, her stories change the reader. You’re different by the time you reach the end." We've told you about The Atlantic's "By Heart" series plenty of times before. This week, it's Alice Mattison, who touches on everything from character development to the strange stories of Grace Paley.
Though everyone is tired of the online critics are too nice/ do critics even matter debate cropping up everywhere as of late, Daniel Mendelsohn's "Critic's Manifesto" may be the best thing to come out of the conversation yet: a clear formulation of what it means to be a critic and why that matters.
It’s not often that a writer has an essay collection and a debut novel come out in the space of a few months, but that’s exactly the situation of Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay, whose novel An Untamed State and collection Bad Feminist are both getting published this year. At Bookforum, Margaret Weppler reads An Untamed State, which displays, she writes, “a staggering sense of strength, confidence and integrity."