“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.
As a poet, historian, critic, translator and editor of The New Republic, Malcolm Cowley was a genuine literary polymath, which is why it’s not surprising that he wrote eloquent letters. In one, for example, he described Larry McMurtry, who Cowley taught when McMurtry was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, as a “wild young man from Texas, expert in pornography.” In the Times, Dwight Garner reviews The Long Voyage, a new collection of Cowley’s letters.
Attention Los Angeles-based readers and eaters! On Tuesday evening, June 29, 2010, Michelle Huneven and Samantha Peale will be at Canele in Atwater Village to celebrate the paperback releases of their latest novels (Blame and The American Painter, Emma Dial, respectively.) Food from the books will be served--the 3-course dinner is only $34. Skylight will be selling the books.
Actor and humorist Nick Offerman at "By The Book" on choosing George Saunders to write his hypothetical life story: "I think [Saunders] would embarrass me by telling the justifiable truth, but with such élan that I would have to shrug and say, 'It was worth it.' If anybody could pull it off, I believe Mr. Saunders would have the tools and talent necessary to render the woodshop traumas of sandpaper and spokeshave, the roller coaster dynamics of a character actor’s life in showbiz, and my relentless penchant for filling a room with noxious gases into a palatable narrative. George — if you’re reading this and you’re up for it — before you dive in, I would just like to say that I think you’re very handsome."
"I took my son to Paris fashion week, and all I got was a profound understanding of who he is, what he wants to do with his life, and how it feels to watch a grown man stride down a runway wearing shaggy yellow Muppet pants." Michael Chabon writes a beautiful piece for GQ about going couturing with his son, Abraham. Pair with yesterday's essay by R. J. Hernández on fashion in literary fiction.
David Remnick's biography of President Obama, The Bridge is out. (The Times explained how Remnick finds time to run the New Yorker and write a 700-page biography of a sitting president.) Also new: Another chronicle of the collapse, The End of Wall Street by talented financial journalist Roger Lowenstein; Nobel laureate Jose Saramago's "blog book" The Notebook; another in the posthumously published oeuvre of Irène Némirovsky, Dimanche and Other Stories; the latest from A.L. Kennedy, What Becomes; and Tom Rachman's touted debut The Imperfectionists.