“Maybe I [felt] a shift in responsibility when I had kids. I wanted the work I was doing, whatever it was, to be something that could be meaningful to them one day. That’s where the germ of the memoir came from. I thought that perhaps writing about my parents and where I came from would one day be helpful for my kids.” For Guernica, Christopher Kondrich interviews Tracy K. Smith about writing a memoir, the presence of David Bowie in her Life on Mars, and her reverence for the cosmic. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.
It’s a bumper crop of new books this week: Hari Kunzru’s Gods Without Men, Kathryn Harrison’s Enchantements, László Krasznahorkai’s Satantango (reviewed here), and Adam Levin’s Hot Pink. Also out this week are Alain de Botton’s Religion for Athiests and Jonathan Safran Foer and Nathan Englander’s New American Haggadah.
LA Weekly writes up the Los Angeles indie bookstore scene, of which I was once a part. Book Soup, my former place of employment, gets a nice and quite accurate writeup. I’ve never shared my stories on the blog, but, for example, the stuff about Faye Dunaway and Elton John is true. Tyson, the star of the article, was one of our more colorful newsstand employees when I was working there. The article’s take on Book Soup owner Glenn, meanwhile, is hilarious and right on the nose. As a bonus, the LA Weekly’s package includes a little bookstore tour of Los Angeles that serves as a nice counterpoint to the one that Garth created for NYC recently.Speaking of LA, obsessive film fans and those who love them should note that Amazon is having a big sale on Criterion Collection DVDs right now.Looking for a new place to live? The house in which Jack Kerouac was born is now for rent.TEV goes out on a “limn” with Michiko Kakutani.
Nicole Chung interviews Amy Tan about her new memoir Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir, one of the highlights is when Tan ponders being one of the ‘first’ authors that people name/read when they think of Asian-American literature. “But when [“The Joy Luck Club”] came out, it did feel like there were many expectations from all areas — not just in the Asian American community, but in Asian culture itself, and in any ethnic studies community. There were people who said ‘At last!’ and there were people who said ‘How dare she?’ […] I wanted to say: I’m not writing sociology, it just so happens this is what happened in my own family.”
It’s a big season for Zadie Smith. While most of us eagerly await the publication of her latest book, NW, the author’s earlier work, On Beauty, is set to become a feature film. Smith’s first book to be dramatized on film was White Teeth, a UK mini-series from 2002 based on her book of the same name. (And available online if you have Hulu Plus.)