Over at The New Inquiry, Alison Kinney writes on narrative opportunity, the true function of the literary orphan, and the rage of the real orphan. This moving piece by Matthew Salesses for The Millions on adoption and searching for oneself in a strange place is a nice complement.
New Yorkers! Come out tonight and celebrate Kingsley Amis alongside the Volume 1 Brooklyn crew, the New York Review of Books Classics publishers, and also such guests as Parul Sehgal, Rosie Schaap, and Maud Newton. There will be free gin! However if you can’t make it, you can treat yourself to the Kingsley Amis Desert Island Discs from the comfort of your own home. The discs, recorded around the time The Old Devils was published, reveal the author’s views on “novel mechanics,” the “Welsh temperament,” and his affinity for jazz.
What’s better than being a writer? A writer who gets paid. Manjula Martin and Jane Friedman have launched the new digital magazine Scratch, which gives writers information on how to advocate for their work. The preview issue is free and contains essays on what freelancers can learn from street vendors, Cord Jefferson on outgrowing his materialism, and an interview with Jonathan Franzen. You can subscribe here.
Luke Epplin examines the life and legacy of Stan “The Man” Musial, who died last week. In particular Epplin takes issue with how well-intentioned biographers have, over the years, “effectively turned Musial into a cardboard cutout, a bygone era’s one-dimensional paragon of constancy, stability, community fealty, and humility, devoid of the temperamental shadings that humanize public figures.”
“Other favorites I’ve found myself overusing include ‘she nodded,’ ‘she raised her eyebrows,’ and ‘she walked home slowly / she slowly walked home.’” Maria Murnane writes for the Amazon Author Insights blog (full disclosure: Amazon helps us keep the lights on around here!) about how to watch out for crutch words.
The Millions Walking Tour of NYC Indie Bookstores is only a week away. Get all the details and RSVP.Little Dorrit is must-see-TV in the Packer household.For those considering undertaking Infinite Jest, we recommend Slate’s Audio Book Club discussion.Meanwhile, in the first installment of New York Magazine’s new “Reading Room” feature, participants get, er… wet.”‘I never wanted to write this book,'” [Alec Baldwin] tells us… ‘It was also a book I never wanted to read, but here we are, Alec and I, making the best of a bad situation.'”The influence of the late J.G. Ballard, who died this week, reached from Jonathan Lethem to Thom Yorke.What’s Bret Easton Ellis up to? Not much, apparently.An inspired blog feature collects one-star Amazon reviews of the classics (via HTMLGIANT).In praise of Peter Handke and A.J. Liebling.Senator Arlen Specter realizes that there’s no way to endear yourself to Republican primary voters like writing for The New York Review of Books.William H. Gass goes for baroque. (via The Complete Review)Some small presses are trying out a subscription model.The earliest known dust jacket for a book has been found. (via LitKicks)The Orange Prize shortlist has been announced.Ben Yogoda writes a defense of common English.Trade paperbacks thrive in tough times. (Our suggestion: make them even smaller.)Earth Day was this past week, and now we know: used books are “greener” than new.