“It will be as long as a book, about 65,000 words. I’m writing my story, weaving together what life is like for LGBT people in Oklahoma and my story of growing up there as well.” Starting this week, Oral Roberts’ grandson, Randy Roberts Potts, is publishing his memoir on Instagram. The Bible Went Down with Birdie Jean takes the form of 300 individual posts, and tells the story of Potts’ rejection from his family alongside interviews with LGBT students at Oral Roberts University. Earlier this year we also considered what might make the Next Great Gay Novel.
Recommended Listening: The Missouri Review’s new weekly podcast, Soundbooth, which will feature interviews and readings with authors, editors, agents, and more. The first episode is a conversation between editor in chief Speer Morgan and marketing director Kris Somerville on the research they do for the journal’s feature section. You can subscribe here.
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.
In an effort to adjust more comfortably to the modern age, the Merriam-Webster company is revamping its iconic dictionary, the first to focus mainly on American English. At Slate, Stefan Fatsis considers the changes, which raise the question of what a modern dictionary should look like. Related: our own Bill Morris on the American Heritage Dictionary.
Proclaiming the death of the book has been in vogue nearly as long as the book itself. Leah Price presents a short history of our pessimism for the future of the written word.
“I was interested enough in WikiLeaks, state transparency, and emergent opposition networks to do five years in prison over such things, but I wasn’t interested enough that I would have voluntarily plowed through 500 pages of badly plotted failed-marriage razzmatazz by an author who’s long past his expiration date simply in order to learn what the Great King of the Honkies thinks about all this.” Barrett Brown reviews Jonathan Franzen’s Purity from prison. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling’s review of the book.
“Much of the time, though, readers will be thinking that the ‘literary correspondence’ is something we’re well shot of – a postwar embarrassment, like child labour, meat rationing and outdoor toilets.” Martin Amis reviews the recent collection of Philip Larkin’s love letters, Letters to Monica, at Guardian.