“Maybe Gnossos, had [Richard] Fariña lived long enough for a sequel, would have wound up on a commune in Canada, nibbling feta and blissed out on retsina, exhaling paregoric joints in some lush and fragrant garden … But he died in his twenties, like a lot of energetic young men of his era. It was the kind of romantic death we feel we understand almost too well, a promising talent suspended, that sense of exemption he wrote about—from mediocrity, from bourgeois compromise and midlife disappointment—a membrane forever intact.” On the enduring joys and exuberant voice of Richard Fariña’s Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me.
“They are both popular and literary and seem to have no problem standing with a foot in each category.” For The Paris Review, our own Adam O’Fallon Price writes about the “unambiguous sophistication” of Curtis Sittenfeld‘s writing—which is often regulated to the world of “chick lit”—and her new short story collection, You Think It, I’ll Say It. (Read our interview with Sittenfeld.)
Peter Ackroyd, a man who T Magazine writer Jody Rosen calls “[an] insanely prolific, controversial and eccentric novelist and historian,” has published, at last count, nearly 6,500 pages of text. That incredible figure equates to more than fifty books, many of them with titles like Dickens: Public Life and Private Passions. (At present, he’s working on a biography of Alfred Hitchcock.)
“But now that my first book of poems has come out, I’ve become increasingly aware of the challenge of writing a good inscription to a reader. As soon as I’ve got the pen in my hand, I become the most unoriginal message-writer on the planet.” On a little-known gripe about book signings.
The Chicago Tribune is rolling out a new premium books section for $99 a year. The Printers Row offering (named for a Chicago neighborhood) “will feature 24 pages of book reviews, author interviews and Chicago-focused literary news, along with a weekly bonus book of short fiction.” You can either feel validated (special HBO-style “premium” section for readers!) or marginalized (so few people care about this that you have to pay extra if you want it.)
It seems to be true that everyone has an opinion on Donald Trump. In private letters now up for auction, Harper Lee compared Trump’s Atlantic City Taj Mahal resort to hell on earth. Pair with Gabriel Brownstein’s recent essay on Trump as reality turned to cliche.