New this week: How to Set a Fire and Why by Jesse Ball; I Am No One by Patrick Flanery; The Long, Hot Summer by Kathleen MacMahon; The Trap by Melanie Raabe; Absalom’s Daughters by Suzanne Feldman; The Dream Life of Astronauts by Patrick Ryan; and Angels of Detroit by Christopher Hebert.
Last month, while traveling through Des Moines, Iowa, President Barack Obama had the chance to interview one of his favorite authors: Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Marilynne Robinson. The first part of the conversation was just published in the NYRB and the second part will appear in the next issue. Obama, who is a big fan of Robinson, had recently quoted her in his eulogy for Reverend Clementa Pinckney, one of nine victims in the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.
“She was furious about the way the female college students of the next generation had been programmed to regard getting an MRS. degree as the be-all and end-all of their experience in higher education. She was enraged by the way the psychiatric profession regarded housewives’ unhappiness as a symptom of an out-of-whack libido. She was angry at the way the economy appeared to see her entire sex as simple consumption machines who built national prosperity by buying new appliances for the kitchen and searching madly for the perfect laundry detergent.” Betty Friedan’s second wave classic The Feminine Mystique turns fifty.
“Most of the time I think of the self as a snare, and I don’t like being trapped in it. I try to reach out beyond my pittance of experience and connect to the world, but it turns out one way to do that is to be honest and accurate about my own life.” Leslie Jamison interviews Charles D’Ambrosio for The New Yorker. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s review of D’Ambrosio’s Loitering.
Here are some things about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle you can learn from this questionnaire: he used the word “ditto;” he reserved his greatest admiration for “men who do their duty without fuss;” and he seems to have been quite happy with being Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
The New Yorker is not a magazine for the general public, writes Summer Brennan in the Literary Hub. “Because The New Yorker is nothing if not a view of the world from a comfortable vantage point. The intensity of the features is balanced by reviews of Manhattan restaurants and jokes about how busy we all are. Print magazines are tribal, and we swear our allegiance by buying them and opening them up. The New Yorker assumes that I am politically liberal and have read Chekhov’s The Seagull, and The New Yorker is right.”
Cutting out large chunks of a book is pretty common, but cutting out 200 pages is a little unusual. While working on his latest novel, Joshua Ferris decided to abandon the elements drawn from crime fiction, which meant he had to toss out a huge portion of his draft. “Now that was a fun day,” he says.