“Ghosts are just the fucked-up dead.” This interview with David Mitchell on the release of his spooky new novel Slade House is a perfect Halloween read. We interviewed Mitchell this same time last year in conjunction with the publication of The Bone Clocks.
“Then there’s the no-one-reads-anymore hysteria, the lack of supportive careers for apprenticing writers, the MFA deathtrap, etc. It feels self-indulgent as a critic to say, ‘But the whole critical structure has broken down, let’s talk about that.’ The critic only comes into play when the books are actually produced and put onto the market, meaning their jobs are tied into this whole decaying, rotting mess of an industry.” Jessa Crispin writes on the self-hating book critic.
This week, Football Book Club will be reading Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright and posting essays about Brain Fever by Kimiko Hahn — its selection from last week — and life without the NFL. Going Clear was a National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award finalist and has been turned into a documentary by HBO.
Sometime Ph.D candidate, sometime actor, and ubiquitous lit blog all-star James Franco (henceforth known as “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named”) has begun filming an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God in West Virginia, and I’m reminded of that line from W. B. Yeats’ “The Second Coming” — “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”
When Belarusian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize earlier this year, her horrifying and poetic book Voices From Chernobyl exposed a great many readers to the Chernobyl disaster. Now, this piece from The Atlantic takes a look at Chernobyl’s literary legacy over the past three decades.
To get a full sense of the legacy of William Blake, you need to see his paintings alongside his famous poems. The Wordsworth contemporary did much of his best work — including the covers of his own collections — with a brush. At the New York Review of Books blog, Jenny Uglow pays a visit to a new exhibition at Oxford.