J. M. Coetzee has published The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy with psychologist Arabella Kurtz, which details the five-year correspondence between the two. The letters offer “a rare opportunity to understand the mind of a writer who almost never speaks at length in his own voice.” For more of the Nobel laureate, read our review of The Childhood of Jesus.
“I was interested enough in WikiLeaks, state transparency, and emergent opposition networks to do five years in prison over such things, but I wasn’t interested enough that I would have voluntarily plowed through 500 pages of badly plotted failed-marriage razzmatazz by an author who’s long past his expiration date simply in order to learn what the Great King of the Honkies thinks about all this.” Barrett Brown reviews Jonathan Franzen’s Purity from prison. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s review of the book.
“The myth of the full-time writer is a perniciously sticky one—and it doesn’t help that once in a blue moon a J.K. Rowling does come along, thereby entrenching the cultural delusion that being a full-time writer is a thing that could realistically happen. But the truth is that being a full-time writer is basically just the literary equivalent of a career in the NBA.” Liz Entman Harper talks with seven writers about the struggle to balance writing with a day job, and those interviews pair well with our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s look at “Working the Double Shift.”
Our friends at The Common have organized a Postcard Auction, and you have until May 20 to bid online. Users can bid on the chance to have well-known authors – such as Adam Johnson, Téa Obreht, Chris Ware, and Kiese Laymon – send handwritten postcards to the address of their choosing. Come on, now. This is your chance to get a handwritten note from an Orange Prize-winner.
Modern day celebrities aren’t the only victims of Photoshop. Paula Byrne, a Jane Austen biographer, believes that Austen has been “airbrushed” on her £10 Bank of England note. The portrait makes her look like “a pretty doll with big doe eyes” and diminishes her reputation as an author, Byrne argues.
To give context to a new William Vollmann essay about reading his own FBI profile (available to subscribers only, sadly), Harper’s Magazine published a few pages from Vollmann’s file online. Among other things, they reveal that the FBI considered Vollman “exceedingly intelligent and possessed with an enormous ego.” (For a taste of the Harper’s essay, you can read this WaPo article on Vollmann’s connection to the Unabomber.)
Last week, we reported that Stephen King’s first hard-boiled detective novel, Mr. Mercedes, will be out this June. If thrillers aren’t your thing, though, King has another horror novel coming out this November, Revival. It tells the story of the dangerous bond between a charismatic minister and a heroin addict musician.
In the latest issue of The Walrus, Casey Plett reads a number of books involving transgender people, critiquing several aspects of their depictions. Along with the essay, she provides a list of transgender novels everyone should read, including Nevada by Imogen Binnie and Wanting in Arabic by Trish Salah.