Recommended Reading: The selected letters of William S. Burroughs at The Paris Review Daily. Read his correspondences with family and writers Allen Ginsberg and Norman Mailer. Pair with Jonathan Clarke’s article on why an author’s biography will never be more important than their writing.
Anya Ulinich, author of Petropolis, talks to World Literature Today: “What else can a person do when she gets home after a ten-hour work day – with a toothache that she can’t afford to fix . . . – but fall on the couch and watch whatever is in front of her face?” . . . Lydia Davis, whose Collected Stories is just out, talks to Sarah Manguso for The Believer: “At the origin of the work there has to be strong feeling, if it’s going to be any good. Of course, that strong feeling can be a delight in language.” . . . The Book Bench unearths a 1978 John Updike interview with a Croation periodical, which finds the Rabbit Angstrom author halfway through his tetralogy. . . . Edwin Frank of NYRB Classics talks to Omnivoracious, and selects his favorite books in the series (via). . . . And James Ellroy submits to interrogation at The Paris Review: “I was always thinking about how I would become a great novelist.”
Last month, Austin Bunn published The Brink, his debut collection of short stories. The stories, as Ryan Krull describes them in The Rumpus, hinge on pushing characters to some personal limit of behavior. In an interview, Bunn talks about why that is, as well as his new short film, In the Hollow.
Victor Hugo, when asked about the other parts of Dante’s Divine Comedy that aren’t the widely-read Inferno, had this to say: “The human eye was not made to look upon so much light, and when the poem becomes happy, it becomes boring.” Ouch. Is this why so many of us haven’t even read Dante, despite his being a kind of cultural icon?
If for some unspeakable reason you didn’t follow my advice when I urged you to subscribe to the VQR over a year ago, then perhaps you need more convincing. Enter: Ron Charles. He’s got a brief preview of the magazine’s Winter Issue, which hit shelves this week, and which contains an essay based on Natasha Trethewey’s Library of Congress speech.
Eric Bulson remarks on the expiration of the European copyright in James Joyce’s oeuvre. The “vast sea of Joyceana,” Bulson writes, “will … have the effect of flooding the market, making it even more difficult for readers to decide which edition to buy.” Meanwhile in Japan, writes Dustin Kurtz, “an expansive and anticipated group” of writers will have their work enter the public domain this year.