George Saunders shares his thoughts on writing his first full-length novel, the forthcoming Lincoln in the Bardo. As he puts it, “It’s like when you’re writing your first book, and you’re trying to figure out what kind of writer you are. This was like that.” Pair with our own Elizabeth Minkel’s piece on Saunders and the question of literary greatness.
Stephanie Danler’s best-selling, semi-autobiographical novel, Sweetbitter, has been given the green light by Starz network for a six-episode series. “As she learns the ropes of restaurant work, [Tess] falls for bad-boy bartender Jake, and makes her first forays into wine, drugs, lust, betrayal and adulthood,” writes the Los Angeles Times. Pair with Jason Arthur‘s essay on novels about work.
Mikhail Gorbachev is calling for an annulment of the recent Moscow elections because he’s concerned about “falsifications and rigging.” For your part, you can join the Stateside movement to echo Mr. Gorbachev’s call. Elsewhere, the Russian Socialist Movement is equally outraged. n+1 editor Keith Gessen has also translated some of the local protests.
“Mr. Walt Whitman has imagined that a certain amount of violent sympathy with the great deeds and sufferings of our soldiers, and of admiration for our national energy, together with a ready command of picturesque language, are sufficient inspiration for a poet. If this were the case, we had been a nation of poets.” A young Henry James reviews Whitman’s Drum Taps.
In the current Broadway production of Twelfth Night, Mark Rylance plays Olivia, a role which sees him plaster his face in white makeup and style his hair into a “pouf like a charcoal brioche.” Rylance, the first artistic director of the Globe Theatre in London, projects such a palpable “air of distracted grief” in his performance that “the carapace of theatricality evaporates,” Charles Isherwood writes. The Times theater critic also highlights the work of John Douglas Thompson and Harriet Walter.
Out this week: The Wall by H.G. Adler; How to Be Both by Ali Smith; Screenplay by MacDonald Harris; Woman with a Gun by Phillip Margolin; Essays after Eighty by Donald Hall; Selected Letters by Norman Mailer; and Skylight by the late Nobel laureate José Saramago. For more on these and other recent titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.