“Updike stopped cartooning while he was an undergraduate at Harvard. This is a factually true statement, but it ignores a larger reality. While Updike might have ceased cartooning, the visual language of comics was never far from his mind. Cartooning was an inextricable strand in his creative DNA.” Jeet Heer writes about John Updike, cartooning, fandom and “bedesque” prose for The Paris Review. Pair with James Santel‘s Millions essay on “The Curious Paradox of John Updike.”
New this week: Yannick Murphy’s latest novel The Call is out this week, as is Tom Scocca’s chronicle of expat life, Beijing Welcomes You (Both are written up in our big second-half preview). Also arriving is a new novel from Helen Schulman, This Beautiful Life, and Bed, the debut effort of David Whitehouse, which has already been a (minor) prizewinner in the UK, and which the publisher compares to A Confederacy of Dunces.
“It took me ten years (four of writing, six of rewriting) to complete The Listener. Now ‘trans is trending,’ and the book has been published into this particular cultural moment, one I could never have envisioned twelve years ago.” Rachel Basch discusses writing in the context of social change at Lit Hub. Pair with our own Sonya Chung’s piece on literary activism.
Benjamin Anastas has bid goodbye to the Twitter Village, and he thinks more writers should do the same. “There is a longing built into our online lives that can lead us to healthy attachments with multiple partners, a kind of polyamory of the mind, but it can also encourage the furtive transmission of waxed-chest photos and cock-shots,” he writes. “These are extreme examples of the kind of lonely misfires that Twitter allows, but I felt the temptation to seek comfort from my Twitter feed often enough to realize that it was only a matter of time before I did something embarrassing.”
Writing for Full Stop, Robert Fay asks, “If Mr. [T.S.] Eliot had to have a day job, why is it that writers and poets today are so cagey about what they do to pay the bills?” Previously, two of our staff writers have explored similar aspects of the same question. In 2009, Emily St. John Mandel wrote of the “constant struggle” that arises from “striking a balance between writing literary fiction and paying the rent.” And last year, Edan Lepucki looked at the perils of including “non-writing jobs” in one’s author bio.