“My father’s life intersected with a century of conflict, horror and invention. He deciphered these histories for me, making me his scribe in a new century. My successes were his successes, and his stories thrum in every word I write. He taught me to see like a writer, to be attentive to the stories that spring up everywhere … It’s an attentiveness to the world, to ordinary suffering, to the love that persists in its midst. My sense of the world, of history and humanity flows from this awareness — and the attendant grim humor — my father used as his guiding lamp in the darkness cast by racism and poverty.” Over at The New York Times, Walter Mosley recalls the lessons taught to him by his father, Leroy.
Nabokov once described himself “as American as April in Arizona,” which is an odd thing to call yourself when you’re a lepidopterist Russian expat. In Nabokov in America, Robert Roper explores why Nabokov felt he was so American, and how his journey to that identity influenced his writing of Lolita. At The Literary Review, Ian Sansom reviews Roper's book.
In May, poet David Lehman wrote the first line of a sonnet about cubicle anomie and began crowdsourcing the rest. The completed 12-week project at The American Scholar is not merely a pretty great piece on its own, but a lesson in how to write one, line by line: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8/9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. You can submit your title suggestion as late as midnight on Sunday, but we suggest getting a start on it now, while the prison of work is still fresh in mind. (h/t The New York Times)
“Did Vladimir Nabokov’s novels anticipate trends in modern psychology?” (via Maud Newton). Well, they certainly anticipated advancements in the evolutionary theory of butterflies.
Out this week: Young Skins by Colin Barrett; Decoy by Allan Gurganus; The Unloved by Deborah Levy; Aquarium by David Vann; The Sellout by Paul Beatty; Crow Fair by Thomas McGuane; and Kazuo Ishiguro's first new novel in ten years (which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed yesterday). For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.