“An artist you love occupies a weird in-between place, where they’re somehow a little more than a father, but a little less than a neighbour. They can permanently re-organize your consciousness but they can’t sell you a Coke. You feel you know them more than anyone you actually know, which means that you don’t really know a damn thing. I feel I know Elliott Smith, but if I picture him in front of me, I find myself picturing a tiny figurine, or Mount Rushmore.” Sasha Chapin has written an intensely personal essay about Elliott Smith for Hazlitt. Here is The Millions’ own Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.
Out this week: Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis; What Would Lynne Tillman Do by Lynne Tillman; In Paradise by the late Peter Matthiessen; Family Life by Akhil Sharma; Talking to Ourselves by Andrés Neuman; I Pity the Poor Immigrant by Zachary Lazar; The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan; The Plover by Adam Doyle; The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon; and a new biography of John Updike by Adam Begley.
“A very proper letter (‘scrutinized and corrected by the magazine’s fact checkers and proofreaders,’ wrote the Times) was sent to [Robert] Gottlieb, beseeching him to decline the [New Yorker] job,” writes Elon Green in his overview of Gottlieb’s brief stint as the magazine’s editor. How would you feel if Donald Barthelme, Deborah Eisenberg, Ian Frazier, Jamaica Kincaid, Janet Malcolm, J.D. Salinger, and 148 others all told you, “don’t come” to your new job?
Now that classic sci-fi mag Omni has risen from the Hades of publishing, editors are combing its massive archives in search of material to republish. Among that material, it turns out, are drawings of Dune homeworld Arrakis — drawings that happen to be endorsed by none other than Frank Herbert himself.