Mairead Small Staid writes on the history and poetics of the ampersand, “a logogram masquerading as a letter, a letter that is also a word—like a and I and even o, but no—a letter that is only a word, the plainest word of all.”
Whether or not you’re an avid collector of NYRB Classics like Stoner, you’ll enjoy this profile of series publisher Edwin Frank, conducted by Millions contributor and Oyster Editorial Director Kevin Nguyen. In the profile, Frank delves into the mindset that guides his choices, tying the rise of the American publishing series to the passage of the GI bill. Sample quote: “Someone seeing a book he or she always loved next to a book he or she had never heard about would say, ‘Wait that’s the book I always loved and it’s back in print, maybe I should buy this one too.’”
Seeing as yesterday was Donald Barthelme’s birthday, it’s as good a time as any to remember the short fiction icon. At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova reads Barthelme’s essay “Not-Knowing,” which you can find in the author’s collection of essays and interviews. Sample quote: “Art is not difficult because it wishes to be difficult, but because it wishes to be art.”
Olivia Laing has written an entire book about male writers and their relationships with alcohol, The Trip to Echo Spring, but in a piece for The Guardian she returns to the subject of writers and drink in order to respond to the question, what about women writers? Were any of them alcoholics? “Yes,” she writes, “of course.” She goes on to discuss the lives and work of Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, Elizabeth Bishop and Patricia Highsmith, their reasons for drinking and their experiences in a society much more willing to accept the struggles of men than of women. For more from Laing, be sure to check out her Year in Reading for 2013.
At the Fiction Writers Review, Robin Black sits down with contributor and Year in Reading alumna Nichole Bernier. The two discuss, among other things, Bernier’s new novel, The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D., as well as novels in which lengthy sections feature characters reading journal entries. (Bernier calls them “funhouse mirrors.”)
“Now I get paid to do something I have loved since I was 4 years old. Other than my family, is there anything else I have loved so unconditionally, for so long?” Georgia Cloepfil in N+1 on the uncompromising, compromised life of the professional female athlete. See also: some thoughts about hosting the World Cup.