“There has been a growth in the literary depiction of a particular type of friendship, one that has in the past found itself vulnerable to dilution and deflection by the ostensibly more powerful imperatives of heterosexuality and motherhood.” On literary female friendships, from Virginia Woolf to Elena Ferrante and Year in Reading alumna Zadie Smith.
Out this week: Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg; Muse by Jonathan Galassi; The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida; Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave; The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus; The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein; A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay; I’d Walk with My Friends If I Could Find Them by Jesse Goolsby; The Loved Ones by Mary-Beth Hughes; A History of Money by Alan Pauls; Land Where I Flee by Prajwal Parajuly; and Bitter Bronx by Jerome Charyn. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
This year’s Whiting Award winners have been announced. The award recognizes “ten emerging writers of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry, and are based on the criteria of early-career achievement and the promise of superior work to come.” The winners include Catherine Lacey (of Nobody Is Ever Missing); Alice Sola Kim (of Mothers, Lock Up Your Daughters Because They Are Terrifying); and Ocean Vuong (of Night Sky with Exit Wounds, among other books).
If your default mood hovers between melancholy and despair, you may be cheered (or at least made a bit less glum) by this argument that striving for happiness is bad for us in the long run. Mari Ruti makes the case that a “happy, balanced life” depends in large part on a kind of emotional numbness.
By now the overlap between writers and drug addicts is pretty well-known, but it wasn’t so well-known back when Thomas De Quincey wrote Confessions of an English Opium Eater. In the essay, De Quincey admitted that not only was he addicted to opium, he suspected he’d ingested more of the substance than any other man save Coleridge. (Incidentally, we reviewed a novel by Year in Reading alumnus Jeet Thayil that largely took place in an opium den.)