“I thought there were would be more in this writing life, an easier path to walk. I write those words and know they are the unwise thoughts of my younger self and that I am still too stubborn to give up on my dreams. When Annie Dillard invited me outside for that smoke, she knew very well what it would mean to a young writer like me. She intuited my ambitions and it was her way of encouraging me.” This essay is ostensibly about smoking cigarettes and playing catch with Annie Dillard, but it’s also about the incredibly important role that an established writer can play in helping a struggling up-and-comer.
In 1862, Fyodor Dostoevsky met Charles Dickens… Or did he? In a thoroughly researched piece for the Times Literary Supplement, Eric Naiman tells the thrilling story of how one – or two? or several? – hoaxers managed to dupe biographers, New York Times reviewers, London Review of Books editors as well as readers of numerous scholarly publications. Long story short: be wary of ostentatious “nipple” references.
“The repetitions, the ellipses, the onomatopoeia: All the markers of Wolfe’s stylistic DNA were adaptive mutations to a competitive climate, search-engine optimization for the typewriter age.” Here’s an interview with Tom Wolfe about his new novel, Back to Blood, which is receiving mixed reviews.
When you think “Franz Kafka,” it typically isn’t his sunny disposition that comes to mind. According to Reiner Stach, this new collection of ephemera, however, seeks to challenge the tired, old conception of Kafka-as-tortured neurotic. Here’s a Millions review of Stach’s twin biographies of Kafka, himself.
The Oxford University Press blog has a never-before-published poem by Dorothy Wordsworth. She constructed the piece in 1839 while suffering from arteriosclerosis and dementia because “there was a therapeutic dimension both in creating and ‘performing’ poetry,” writes Lucy Newlyn.
Out this week: Young Skins by Colin Barrett; Decoy by Allan Gurganus; The Unloved by Deborah Levy; Aquarium by David Vann; The Sellout by Paul Beatty; Crow Fair by Thomas McGuane; and Kazuo Ishiguro’s first new novel in ten years (which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed yesterday). For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.