“My goal isn’t soft multiculturalism, but rather to convey a richer and fuller sense of what literature is, what the possibilities are, and to share the voices that often get excluded or silenced when we speak of ‘literature’ and ‘writing.’” Guernica interviews Counternarratives author John Keene.
In memory of Peter Matthiessen, The Missouri Review has unlocked an interview with him from 1989. Matthiessen detailed the beginning of his writing career. “I started my first novel and sent off about four chapters and waited by the post office for praise to roll in, calls from Hollywood, everything. Finally my agent sent me a letter that said ‘Dear Peter, James Fenimore Cooper wrote this a hundred and fifty years ago, only he wrote it better. Yours, Bernice.’ I probably needed that; it was very healthy.” For more Matthiessen, you can read one of his best travel essays or his new novel, In Paradise.
What’s the one question you should never ask a writer starting a new book: how’s the writing going? “Nothing can damage a novel in embryo as quickly and effectively as trying to describe it before it’s ready,” Mark Slouka writes. Follow his advice for how to keep your writer friends.
Need a good way to start your Monday? Try browsing a repository of the craziest, most confusing things Amazon has on offer.
If you’ve been on the Internet in the past week, you’ve probably heard about Beyoncé’s incredible new record, Lemonade. Noah Friedman at Wordshop 101 explains why Lemonade is great press for poets (particularly Warsan Shire, who is featured in the film). Andrew Kay writes on how reading poetry aloud connects us with the dead.
The book cover is in decline, Tim Kreider writes. “It seems as if sixty-five per cent of all novels’ jackets feature an item of female apparel and/or part of the female anatomy and the name of some foodstuff in the title—the book-cover equivalent of the generic tough-guy-with-gun movie poster with title like ‘2 HARD & 2 FAST.'” We judge books by their covers, too.
Over the past week, the work of three Millions staffers has been shown off for other publications: Mark O’Connell talks Lethem, Dyer and Batuman for Slate; Emily St. John Mandel talks noir for Beyond the Margins; and Garth Risk Hallberg names his selection for this year’s Pulitzer-less Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.