“Baldwin understood that if you are going to say something important about the world it is best if you try to say it beautifully. I don’t mean like picking flowers or writing on fancy stationery. I mean how you say it actually makes it a more meaningful piece of writing. I am going to push that further. It makes it a truer piece of writing. What you are saying is: ‘Can I make somebody feel this in a deeper way?’ That was what I was obsessed with.” Over at The Guardian, Ta-Nehisi Coates talks about the success of Between the World and Me and being inspired by his father. Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s essay on David Brooks and Ta-Nehisi Coates.
“The art style also changes from chapter to chapter — some panels fill the pages to the edges and are overwhelming in their dark palette; some seem ordinary in proportion, confident; others fill the space around small figures with words, words, words; and others still have a minimalist, sketch-like quality and barely occupy the page at all — and they aren’t always chapters, or even stories, in the traditional sense.” On MariNaomi’s Dragon’s Breath and Other Stories.
“We always try to create the worst opinion of everything there is in the United States, as a response to what they have always done with us. The only difference is that we do not write falsehoods about the United States. I told you that we emphasize the worst things, that we omit things that could be viewed as positive, but we do not invent any lies.” This excerpted interview with Fidel Castro over at The Paris Review is enlightening for its candor and frankness.
Out this week: Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo; Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty; Caca Dolce by Chelsea Martin; The Surveyors by Mary Jo Salter; and The Red-Haired Woman by Orhan Pamuk. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“I have often thought that if I were ever a drag queen, and more specifically that if I were ever a drag queen who was a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I would play Virginia Woolf — or rather, Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf — in the Snatch Game episode when the contestants don their very best celebrity impersonation.” Untucking RuPaul’s Drag Race at The Los Angeles Review of Books.
“I don’t know how to give more of myself than a poem. Every poem I write is more accurate than anything I can ever tweet about it: my interior life, and its struggle and desire to converse with the exterior world.” Tarfia Faizullah writes for Poetry‘s blog about why she doesn’t want to explain her poems, the power of breath, and the frustrating implications of the question, “did it happen to you?”
“Every writer needs an editor, and anyone who says he doesn’t has a fool for a muse.” The New York Times interviews journalists on the importance of editors, and it’s well worth the short read. Pair with our own Edan Lepucki‘s conversation with her editor.