Matthew Salesses talks about moral fiction and how to address prejudice in writing at Electric Lit. A piece of his essay: “The writing of fiction cannot treat marginalized characters as vessels, cannot let the plot play out the racism of under-enlightened protagonists. Perhaps the ultimate conclusion is that one cannot write without prejudice unless one understands that one has prejudice.” Pair with his recent essay at The Millions on plot and the inciting incident.
Andrew Marantz reviews R. Kelly’s “breezy” and “revealing” memoir, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me, for The New Yorker’s book blog, Page-Turner. This might be what they meant when they said they were “rebooting” the Book Bench. (Related: hear Gary Oldman read some passages from the book.)
“[H]e is a true, unrepentant nerd, who has only ever been looking for his people.” Buzzfeed‘s Doree Shafrir talks with Michael Chabon (and his wife, the writer Ayelet Waldman) about being a good literary citizen, his life in letters, and his new “fictional memoir” Moonglow.
Louis Menand, Thessaly La Force, Amelia Lester, and David Haglund have come together to discuss the influence of literary powerhouse and cultural icon Joan Didion in The New Yorker’s Out Loud Podcast. Our own Michael Bourne calls Didion America’s Truth Teller in his review of her biography.
Leading Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn has been working on a three-volume biography of the Liverpool band for almost a decade. Tentatively titled The Beatles: The Complete Story, the first installment was due for a publication date this year. Unfortunately, Volume One, which tracks the group from the beginning through December 1962, has hit yet another delay, and fans likely won’t see it until 2013. As Lewisohn says, the accuracy takes time, and “the whole ethos of the project is ‘do the job properly’.” Lewisohn’s last work was the 2006 Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.
Hat tip to Melville House’s Dustin Kurtz for sharing The Gates Notes with the world. Now you can read real book reviews written by America’s wealthiest man. That’s almost as good as reading real book reviews written by one of the world’s most powerful conservative fundraisers.
“Art isn’t a footrace. No one comes in first place. Greatness is not a universally agreed-upon value. … America isn’t one story. It’s a layered and diverse array of identities, individual and collective, forged on contradictory realities that are imbued with and denied privilege and power. Our obsession with the Great American Novel is perhaps evidence of the even greater truth that it’s impossible for one to exist. As Americans, we keep looking anyway.” Cheryl Strayed and Adam Kirsch discuss the Great American Novel in this week’s New York Times Bookends. For a slightly different take, consider the 9 novels our experts chose as the Greatest American novels, from Moby-Dick to The Godfather.