Beyoncé’s visual album/phenomenon Lemonade has only been out for a few days and already it has spawned countless thinkpieces. One of the best and most inspiring things to come out of it has been the #LemonadeSyllabus hashtag, popularized by Rutgers University educator Candace Benbow. The series “encourages Black women to share curated reading lists of books, poems and other inspirational literature penned by Black female authors that celebrate every aspect of what it means to be a Black woman.”
Recommended Reading: Delaney Nolan’s recent piece in Guernica, “How I Gonna Bare My Neck Outside in the Sweat-Scared Morning.”
Another day, another LARB piece about reading Russian fiction in conjunction with the Winter Olympics. (One particularly interesting earlier installment is over here.) Meanwhile, I offer a compendium of passages from the Russian masters, and use my favorite #SochiFails to illustrate them.
Purveyor of popular nonfiction Erik Larson has a new book out this week, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. The Snowman by Jo Nesbø is a new entry in the increasingly popular Scandinavian thriller genre. Inward-looking graphic novelist Chester Brown’s latest, Paying for It is out, and musician and actor Steve Earle can now add “novelist” to his resume with the release of I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive. And new in paperback are a pair of big books, Brady Udall’s The Lonely Polygamist and Karl Marlantes’s Matterhorn.
The Washington Post offers a long profile of the still underappreciated Edward P. Jones. We learn he hasn’t put a word of fiction to paper in four years but has been writing in his head. “‘I write a lot in my head,’ he says. ‘I’ve never been driven to write things down.'” (via @keelinmc)
“Writing gives me great feelings of pleasure. There’s a marvelous sense of mastery that comes with writing a sentence that sounds exactly as you want it to. It’s like trying to write a song, making tiny tweaks, reading it out loud, shifting things to make it sound a certain way. It’s very physical. I get antsy. I jiggle my feet a lot, get up a lot, tap my fingers on the keyboard, check my e-mail. Sometimes it feels like digging out of a hole, but sometimes it feels like flying. When it’s working and the rhythm’s there, it does feel like magic to me.” Susan Orlean on why she writes.
Sarah Fay, associate editor of The Paris Review, has a piece in The Atlantic on the digitization of book reviewing, framed beautifully by references to George Orwell’s 1946 essay “Confessions of a Book Reviewer.” She praises Bookslut, Nancy Pearl, Goodreads, and The Los Angeles Review of Books for their collective skills of recommendation, reviewing, and New Criticism. I’d add The Quarterly Conversation, The Rumpus, The New Inquiry, The Morning News (for their annual Tournament of Books feature), and of course, The Millions.