“I had invented a writing table out of a wheelbarrow in the coal bunker, just beyond a wall from where a dynamo ran. It made a deep, constant humming noise. There was no more work to do until about 4 a.m., when we would have to clean the fires and get up steam again.” The University of Mississippi power plant where William Faulkner wrote his self-styled “tour-de-force” As I Lay Dying is slated to be demolished. Here’s a nice, complementary piece on slowing down to read Faulkner.
“I think what I would really most like to write about is palm trees and bougainvillea and hummingbirds. I would like to go into the desert and write about salamanders and the Grand Canyon, but history keeps rupturing my experience because politics are everywhere.” National Book Award winner Robin Coste Lewis on overcoming brain damage and becoming a poet. Pair with Andrew Kay’s Millions essay on the power of poetry.
Buzzfeed kicked up a storm on Thursday when its first-ever Buzzfeed Books editor, Isaac Fitzgerald, told Poynter that the site’s new vertical won’t publish negative reviews. Invoking the “Bambi rule,” Fitzgerald argued that he sees no point “[wasting] breath talking smack about something.” At The Atlantic Wire, Eric Levenson published a counterpoint, while Alexanda Petri poked fun at Fitzgerald in the WaPo.
Is the global literary marketplace changing the way that novelists write? Over at Public Books, Dora Zhang writes on Rebecca Walkowitz’s Born Translated and books that “appear simultaneously or nearly simultaneously in multiple languages.” Pair with this Millions piece on literary translators at work.
“This inconvenient working-class revolution we are now witnessing has been accused of stupidity—I cursed it myself the day it happened—but the longer you look at it, you realize that in another sense it has the touch of genius, for it intuited the weaknesses of its enemies and effectively exploited them. The middle-class left so delights in being right! And so much of the disenfranchised working class has chosen to be fragrantly, shamelessly wrong.” Year in Reading alumna Zadie Smith shares her thoughts on Brexit.
Jesmyn Ward signed a deal for two books with Simon & Schuster: one adult novel with Scribner and the other a middle-grade novel with Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, according to Publisher’s Weekly. From our archives: Ward’s 2017 Year in Reading entry and our interview with the two-time National Book Award winner.