New this week: Moonglow by Michael Chabon; I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb; Morning, Paramin by Derek Walcott and Peter Doig; Selected Poems 1968-2014 by Paul Muldoon; and a new Richard Pevear translation of Alexander Pushkin’s complete prose. For more on these and other new titles, go read our latest fiction and nonfiction book previews.
How often do journalists unfairly stereotype the Rust Belt? All the time, says Jim Russell. In a piece for Pacific Standard, he argues that much of the reporting on Dayton, Flint and other industrial towns falls prey to hyperbole and generalization. (Related: Darryl Campbell on the recession and Rust Belt fiction.)
Electric Literature’s posted a story by Jesmyn Ward, author of the reigning National Book Award-winning novel Salvage the Bones, as part of their ongoing Recommended Reading series. It’s worth checking out. Likewise, I recommend getting your hands on the latest issue of Oxford American so you can check out Ward’s inaugural “Native Daughter” column.
“To me a book is not just a particular file. It’s connected with personhood. Books are really, really hard to write. They represent a kind of a summit of grappling with what one really has to say. And what I’m concerned with is when Silicon Valley looks at books, they often think of them as really differently as just data points that you can mush together. They’re divorcing books from their role in personhood.” Digital pioneer and theorist Jaron Lanier fears that the Internet might be destroying not just literature, but also the middle class.
Is just me, or has The New Yorker been resurgent the last few weeks? In addition to the David Grann piece mentioned below, we’ve gotten: Bloomberg, diving, James Wood‘s most cogent essay to date on atheism and belief, and a F-B-P triple play. (That’s Friend to Bilger to Paumgarten, for those keeping score at home.) And I read the fiction for five issues in a row – a personal best. I know they assemble these things far in advance, but it still feels like the Ian Frazier “Siberia” two-parter, eight years in the making, started some kind of conflagration of awesomeness. Thoughts?
“I thought quite a lot about the vocabulary of tourism, the kinds of desires that vocabulary seems designed to ignite, and the promises made, and how those promises change or vanish altogether depending on who you are.” The Paris Review interviews Laura van den Berg about writing, tourism, and her new novel, The Third Hotel. From our archives: our 2015 interview with van den Berg.
James Baldwin couldn’t be more relevant, but he is fading from America’s high school classrooms. His controversial writing, censorship, poor student reading habits, and absence from the Common Core are all to blame for the lack of Baldwin in the curriculum. Pair with: Our essay on why Baldwin’s work still resonates.