We thoroughly enjoyed the latest episode of David Naimon‘s Between the Covers podcast featuring Whiting-Award winner Tyehimba Jess. The conversation centers on Jess’s latest book, Olio, a tour de force hybrid-genre exploration of African-American performers from the period just before the American Civil War through World War I. (Previously: We recommended Jess’s Leadbelly as perfect reading for train travel.)
Heidi Julavits credits her habit of keeping a diary with convincing her that writing might be a viable career path. In her new book, The Folded Clock, she returns to the format of her childhood, crafting a lengthy diary meant to stand on its own as a narrative. In the Times, Eula Biss reads the book and reflects on our notions of the self. Related: Rachel Signer on the Julavits/Sheila Heti/Leanne Shapton project Women in Clothes.
It’s about an hour away from 5 o’clock over here, so that gives you plenty of time to read Chris Newgent’s “No-Bull Bourbon Review” on Hobart’s website. “A true bourbon,” Newgent writes, “is a bourbon with a story worth remembering.” Agreed. And so would Walker Percy.
The Kindle edition of one of our Most Anticipated Books is on sale at $1.99. Our Man in Iraq, a novel by Robert Perišic, follows two Croatian cousins who manage to get caught up in the frenzy of the Iraq War. You can find out more in John Feffer’s interview with Perišic. (h/t Buzz Poole)
Thomas Pynchon defined what he termed “vintage Barthelmismo” as “fictions thoughtfully concocted and comfortably beyond the reach of time.” This moving tribute to Donald Barthelme by Padgett Powell from the forthcoming anthology, A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors, is right in line with Pynchon’s sentiment. Here’s another Barthelme mention from The Millions that you may be interested in.
Our own Nick Ripatrazone has been on a roll lately. Apart from the many articles he’s written for The Millions, he’s got a forthcoming collection of short fiction that includes works he published in Esquire and The Kenyon Review. He also published a new poem, “South Africa, 1988,” at The Nervous Breakdown, which you can read in conjunction with his self-interview.