Out this week: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi; Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam; They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine; Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley; and End of Watch by Stephen King. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.
At 1,700 words, J.K. Rowling’s new “History of the Quidditch World Cup” may not be as daunting a read as J.R.R Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in its appeal to ardent fans. At Slate, a brief look at the Wizarding World’s latest reference book.
“Many writers write vexed introspection, or detail-oriented reporting, or counterintuitive cultural commentary, or lifestyle journalism. But so far only Didion has done all four in perfect synthesis, a prose that, at its best, can fire on every cylinder and work on multiple fields of the imagination at once.” In support of the Kickstarter project for the documentary on Joan Didion, We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live, Nathan Heller looks back over Didion’s writing career, her “imaginatively seductive” nonfiction writing and her carefully constructed confessionalism in a piece for Vogue.
Over at Aeon, Alana Massey writes about memory and how the internet archives personal data. In her own words, “Because the archiving technology captures only snapshots of a site at a given time, results might not be an exact replica of the site as it was. As I learned from the fragments of our site, things such as embedded media might be missing and scripts are unlikely to work. After all, a toy boat is hardly its former self after a lifetime at the bottom of the sea. No matter how intact an archive, it can never fully reconstruct the texture and completeness of the original memory.”
“I started keeping a journal when I was eight, but even before then I was a kid who loved making long lists of everything I could see or remember. Coconut, tricycle, jeepney, air freshener, I would write, for example, and my lists would lengthen and become even more specific as I grew to know the world around me. […] Reading and writing always seemed a part of my life and identity.” For The Rumpus, Swati Khurana interviews Janine Joseph about writing poems as teenagers, writing from experience, and what it meant for Joseph to “come out” as an undocumented immigrant.
“I interrupted the making of this essay three times to record unrelated thoughts in my diary.” Our own Bruna Dantas Lobato writes at Ploughshares on record-keeping. For more of her writing, check out her piece on Juan Goytisolo’s 1970 novel Count Julian for The Millions.
How does a writer keep their work fresh? What’s the goal of a successful artist? What is it like to adapt someone else’s writing for the screen? The Atlantic interviews Nick Hornby about his latest book, Funny Girl, and these are some of the questions that come up. Pair with this Millions review of Hornby’s A Long Way Down.
In the Fall 2015 issue of n+1, Adam Ehrlich Sachs explores the idea of inherited disorders through nine short pieces. An excerpt: “He wanted the reader to think to himself: ‘I just read about the Holocaust. Why am I picturing this fern? What is the matter with me?’ Such was the literary effect he was aiming for.”