“Barbarian Days by William Finnegan. Made me realize my whole life has been pretty much a waste. I suspected this anyway; he explained why: because I’d not surfed.” Geoff Dyer over at the New York Times on the best book he’s read recently. Our own Janet Potter interviewed Dyer on the release of his most recent book, White Sands.
Nell Zink, whose second novel comes out next week, has one of the lit world’s more unusual origin stories. An expat in Germany, she wrote her first novel in three weeks, after striking up a friendship over email with Jonathan Franzen. In the latest New Yorker, Kathryn Schulz details her story in full. You could also read Emily Gould’s recommendation of her work for Year in Reading.
Michiko Kakutani‘s generous and oddly moving review of Jay-Z‘s Decoded – in which she seems to find a kindred spirit – almost makes me want to take back all the mean things I’ve said about her. I still don’t trust her judgment, but the review’s worth reading just for the mental image of her in big headphones, nodding along to “Streets Is Watching.” Go ‘head, shorty.
What makes a sentence sad? At The Missouri Review blog, Aaron Gilbreath explores just why certain sentences are depressing — from A.A. Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner to James Joyce’s “Eveline.” “Their emotional impact doesn’t stem solely from the combination of words. The impact often results from the circumstances of readers’ lives.” Pair with: Sam Martone’s metafictional short story about his grandmothers’ deaths, “A Second Attempt,” at Pithead Chapel.
Byliner has published two never-before-seen stories by the late Elmore Leonard. The first story, “The Trespassers,” follows a pair of hunters, while the second focuses on a whiskey-swilling priest who gets involved in a showdown in the Wild West. (You should also read our own Bill Morris on the qualities that made Leonard a special writer.)