“The striking thing about her search for God is that she sometimes finds him. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek’s second chapter, after a kind of introduction, is titled ‘Seeing.’ There are two kinds, she explains. The common variety is active, where you strain, against the running babble of internal monologue, to pay attention to what’s actually in front of you. But, she tells us, ‘there is another kind of seeing that involves a letting go.’ You do not seek, you wait. It isn’t prayer; it is grace. The visions come to you, and they come from out of the blue.” On Annie Dillard’s turn to silence.
TNR‘s Ruth Franklin test-drives a new online dating service that “purports to match people based on their taste in literature.” Spoiler alert: Sebald lovers appear to be out of luck.
As if the guy needs any additional distractions to keep him from writing the seventh (or eighth!) books in his Song of Ice and Fire series, George R. R. Martin recently decided to join Twitter. If he ends book six with ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, then I presume you’ll know why.
New this week: Karen Russell’s new collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove; buzzed-about thriller The Dinner by Herman Koch; Harvest by Jim Crace; Fight Song by Joshua Mohr; the final novel of the late Maeve Binchy, A Week in Winter; Tara Conklin’s debut The House Girl; and James Lasdun’s non-fiction Give Me Everything You Have: On Being Stalked.
If you like your music country/folk-ish with a difference, Joshua James new album Build Me This might be of interest. No Depression, the roots music blog, describes the album as a hybrid of “chain-gang chants, country-fuzz rave-ups, gospel rafter-raisers, southern blues grinds, and civil war camp songs.” Try not to be taken aback by the Jared Leto-in-a-mud-mask cover art.
Lots of new books out this week: Where Mortals Sleep, previously unpublished short fiction by Kurt Vonnegut, with a foreword by Dave Eggers; A Life, one of what will be several biographies of J.D. Salinger arriving over the next couple of years; Stanley Fish tells us How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One; Brian Greene introduced the masses to string theory with The Elegant Universe, and now he’s back with The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos; Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge is out in paperback; and finally, from Penguin Classics, The Penguin Book of Victorian Women in Crime: Forgotten Cops and Private Eyes from the Time of Sherlock Holmes.
“I learned through imitation, but it was only when I followed—or found—my own voice that I was able to derive a different kind of inspiration from reading fiction, something subtler and more expansive. Today, when I reach a wall in my own work, I turn to authors I love to remind myself what is possible: that sentence, that structure, that daring twist of plot.” Chloe Benjamin, who just yesterday published a piece on choosing book titles for The Millions, writes about the dangers and rewards of reading while writing for Poets and Writers’ Recommends series.