Fresh Air’s Terry Gross sits down with Jonathan Franzen to talk about Purity, writing, and the possibility of parenthood. “I’ve always thought of myself as a comic novelist. It’s a tough road to hoe because comedy means light in people’s mind. There was an ambitious part of me that kind of chafed and was secretly relieved when the comedy was overlooked, but at a certain point, it becomes wearing for people not to get the humor.” Pair with our review of the novel.
“Robinson resists the notion of love as an easy antidote to a lifetime of suffering or solitude, suggesting that intimacy can’t intrude on loneliness without some measure of pain.” Leslie Jamison reviews Marilynne Robinson‘s latest novel, Lila, which was recently longlisted for the National Book Award.
The Poetry Archive: “The Poetry Archive is the world’s premier online collection of recordings of poets reading their work. You can enjoy listening here, free of charge, to the voices of contemporary English-language poets and of poets from the past.”A few days ago the New York Times released its usual 100 book “Notable” list, but now we get the really good stuff: the Times top ten of the year. The big surprise: an appearance by Curtis Sittenfeld’s “calm and memorably incisive first novel,” Prep.Scott and Ed and others have already noted this, but I just got around to reading it: the NYRB piece on our latest National Book Award winner, William T. Vollmann.Also noted by many litblogs, the ever-multitasking Bud has launched a sleek litblog network/aggregator/community: MetaxuCafe. Very cool.
Talk about burying the lede. This article about Alec Baldwin’s return to television acting, and how he’ll be playing “a Rob Ford-type mayor of New York,” doesn’t make a big deal out of the show’s pilot writer. But it should. Because his name is Wells Tower.
Year in Reading contributor Kevin Smokler’s new essay collection, Practical Classics, explores the benefits of revisiting the first books you read (even if you hated them). In fact, the difficult and excruciating books have a particular value. “Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends,” says Smokler in a new Rumpus interview. “Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.”
Out this week: Local Girls by Caroline Zancan; The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson; The Mountain Story by Lori Lansens; Kay Boyle: A Twentieth-Century Life in Letters; Killing Monica by Candace Bushnell; and a new translation of the poems of Catullus.