"The myth of the full-time writer is a perniciously sticky one—and it doesn’t help that once in a blue moon a J.K. Rowling does come along, thereby entrenching the cultural delusion that being a full-time writer is a thing that could realistically happen. But the truth is that being a full-time writer is basically just the literary equivalent of a career in the NBA." Liz Entman Harper talks with seven writers about the struggle to balance writing with a day job, and those interviews pair well with our own Emily St. John Mandel's look at "Working the Double Shift."
New this week: Orfeo by Richard Powers; Carthage by Joyce Carol Oates; Boy in the Twilight by Yu Hua; What We’ve Lost is Nothing by Rachel Louise Snyder; and His Day is Done by Maya Angelou. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2014 Book Preview.
Perhaps best known for her fiction, specifically her classic The Group, Mary McCarthy became a novelist almost by chance. "McCarthy was good at recycling – a term which she used herself – and good, also, as she admitted, at plagiarizing her own life. Nevertheless, her fiction lives, and some of it has been highly influential." Margaret Drabble takes us through McCarthy's major works of fiction, featured in Mary McCarthy: The Complete Fiction which was released this year in a deluxe collection for the very first time.
Why do great books we read as children have a more profound effect on us than great books we read as adults? It’s hard to say, but YA novelist Anne Cardi comes up with a number of reasons, among them the ability of children’s books to permanently change our viewpoints. (FYI, we asked a bunch of teenagers to recommend last year’s best YA novels.)