“How can you write a complete story without a conventional plot? We often hear that in short stories, the main character must change. But in some stories, including some by Grace Paley, the characters don’t change. Instead, her stories change the reader. You’re different by the time you reach the end.” We’ve told you about The Atlantic’s “By Heart” series plenty of times before. This week, it’s Alice Mattison, who touches on everything from character development to the strange stories of Grace Paley.
In today’s installment of “The Unpopular Opinion,” Malcolm Jones for The Daily Beast thinks that it’s high time that we let Rudyard Kipling out of the penalty box. Jones argues that, while Kipling may have written a lot of “jingoistic trash,” to judge him “by the standards of our time, not his, serves him poorly and obscures his true genius.”
“An artist you love occupies a weird in-between place, where they’re somehow a little more than a father, but a little less than a neighbour. They can permanently re-organize your consciousness but they can’t sell you a Coke. You feel you know them more than anyone you actually know, which means that you don’t really know a damn thing. I feel I know Elliott Smith, but if I picture him in front of me, I find myself picturing a tiny figurine, or Mount Rushmore.” Sasha Chapin has written an intensely personal essay about Elliott Smith for Hazlitt. Here is The Millions’ own Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.
“Learning to really listen to it and learning to kind of embrace it, rather than running away from it, was a very useful thing to do,” says Hari Kunzru of the sounds of New York City’s streets. The sirens, horns, and arguments are the inspiration for his new “multimedia book,” Twice Upon a Time: Listening to New York. (Bonus: Kunzru has participated in our Year in Reading series two times in the past.)
New this week: Zero K by Don DeLillo; Sweet Lamb of Heaven by Lydia Millet; Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo; The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan; Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett; and Eleven Hours by Pamela Erens (who we interviewed). For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great 2016 Book Preview.