Recommended Listening: Margaret Atwood on her new novel – one of the most anticipated books of 2015, and the fall of realistic fiction. As she explains it, “when there’s perceived instability that’s happening you can’t write [a so-called realistic] novel and have people believe it.”
In an illuminating interview for Slate, James Wood revises his opinion on David Foster Wallace and discusses how aging can change critics. As he puts it, “At exactly the moment that I wanted really to write, and started writing poems and then trying to write bad fiction, I was reading with a view to learning stuff. I was reading poetry. How did Auden do his stanza forms? And I was trying to copy those. What’s a successful poem, what’s an unsuccessful poem? […] What’s a good sentence? I don’t think I’ve changed. I am as sincerely interested in novels that fail as I am in novels that succeed. I just want to work them out. It’s a pleasure for me actually.” Top it off with Jonathan Russell Clark’s essay on Wood’s The Nearest Thing to Life.
Christian Lorentzen wonders, in Book Forum, what the first OWS novels will be like. He anticipates them showing up next year, but I'm thinking we've already got at least two, though they were both published well before Occupy: Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story ought to fit the bill, and, of course, there's that famous Melville story about Wall Street, but I'd prefer not to talk about it when I could just direct you to Hannah Gersen's piece instead.
The New Yorker Book Bench is having a contest. Submit a photo of your pet dressed as a character from literature. My kittens are in for the worst two weeks of their young lives. Dante and Fur-gil? Tess of the O'Paw-bervilles? Jay Catsby? Oh my god. So many possibilities.
I've got another post up about Nadeem Aslam's Maps for Lost Lovers at the LBC Blog. I've been going back and forth with Sam (of Golden Rule Jones), so check out his posts, too.Calvin Trillin talks turducken and other things Cajun in the most recent issue of National Geographic. The piece is typical Trillin, funny and featuring mouth-watering descriptions of various regional delicacies. (Much like the articles collected in a favorite book of mine, Trillin's Feeding a Yen)Jim Crace discusses his Guardian column, The Digested Read, "The idea of rewriting a book in the style of the author in just 500 or so words is a gift to any satirist, and it remains the only outlet in the print media where publishers' hype always gets treated with the irreverence it deserves." A collection of the columns is out in EnglandThe CS Monitor takes a look at the self-publishing craze: "IUniverse, which prints several thousand books annually, reports submissions are up 17 percent in the first six months of this year."A couple of new McSweeney's offerings that you may or may not have seen already. Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things... is anthology for young adults, edited by Lemony Snicket and with stories by Nick Hornby, John Scieszka and Neil Gaiman, among others. Meanwhile Issue #17 of their Quarterly Concern is also out. According to Amazon: "Issue 17 is not an ordinary issue of McSweeney's. It is, however, an ordinary bundle of mail, stacked and rubber-banded, containing the usual items: a recent issue of Yeti Researcher, a sausage-basket catalog, a flyer for slashed prices on multi-user garments, a couple letters... the usual. Also: the debut of a DVD quarterly, featuring never-before-seen work by Spike Jonze and David O. Russell. Also: stories."
A new, non-profit literary journal has launched in Austin, Texas. Each issue of The Austin Review will include four pieces of flash non-fiction, four short stories, and one work of critical analysis. Special attention will be paid to writers from the city that gave us Sixth Street.
“Literature can use secrecy as a device to ensnare readers, to pull the wool over their eyes or to reveal to them things that the characters can’t see. Whether large – businessman by day, serial killer by night; or small – where a character silently yearns for an ex-lover.” Eli Goldstone compiles a list for The Guardian of 10 novels whose characters are concealing big secrets, including a few lesser-knowns like Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle and New Finnish Grammar by Diego Marani.