Doubleday pulled a Beyonce and published Colson Whitehead’s latest book, The Underground Railroad, a month early. Oprah chose Whitehead’s book for her book club, and Doubleday “secretly started shipping out 200,000 copies in anticipation of the announcement.” You can also read a review from Michiko Kakutani at the New York Times.
Edmund Wilson famously said of the works of H.P. Lovecraft that “the only real horror in most of these fictions is the horror of bad taste and bad art.” In time, however, Lovecraft developed a substantial following, which raises the question of what attracted readers to his work. The answer? “The weird realism that runs through his writings undermines any belief system – religious or humanist – in which the human mind is the centre of the universe.” Related: Ben Dooley on the scariness of House of Leaves.
Leslie Jamison, whose collection Empathy Exams was widely praised on The Millions, has earned a two-book “mega” deal with Little, Brown. The new deal promises to deliver another essay collection entitled Ghost Essays, as well as a work of “narrative nonfiction” entitled Archive Lush. (Bonus: We interviewed Jamison for the site last May.)
The Guardian offers a long, worthwhile profile of Dave Eggers, who suddenly is being considered and reconsidered seemingly everywhere. “The McSweeney’s empire… often gets characterised as a kind of cabal: a hip, young gang. [Eggers] and [wife Vendela] Vida, whose writerly circle includes Nick Hornby, Rick Moody, Jonathan Lethem and Joyce Carol Oates, tend to be seen as tastemakers. He thinks this is ridiculous.” (Thanks Emre!)
Chuck Klosterman wonders, which rock stars will historians of the future remember?
“These writers project a mythos of healing. Their work says to the world, ‘Yes, we go on in spite of the troubles and we heal. Our stories are stories of braveness and healing. We got this.’ But I don’t got this! I’m trying to affect a calm tone. I’m losing my shit.” Luke B. Goebel reflects on anxiety, medication, and creativity at Catapult. Gila Lyons, similarly, writes on how medication affected her creative life.
“Getting too quickly to where you want to go, getting there too smoothly, is antithetical to thinking through complex issues. You want roadblocks, confusion, chaos, and doubt. Unexpected, wonderful things come out of this approach.” Jeff VanderMeer provides a master class for Publisher’s Weekly on novel revision, explaining in five steps how his new book Borne arrived at its final incarnation. And for more shop talk, see VanderMeer’s interview with The Kills author Richard House from our own pages a couple of years back.