“[I]n the days following the election, one thing became clear: many librarians are anxious about the future.” From Carla Hayden to copyright reform, Publisher’s Weekly has the top 10 library stories of 2016. Also recommended: a piece by Daniel Penev from our own pages earlier this year, about how libraries matter now more than ever.
There are many possible answers to the question “where do you write?”, but one of the strangest, and most unexpected, has to be “I don’t know.” At The Rumpus, Brendan Constantine admits that he doesn’t write in any one place, and that his memory for where he’s written before is “completely unreliable.” We surveyed our own staff a couple years ago to see how they answered the question.
In The Guardian, Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris writes a tribute to the novelist Jim Shepard, who taught him at UC Irvine when Ferris was a student there in the early aughts. Ferris makes a case that Shepard single-handedly settles a modern debate: “A lot of critics dislike the professionalisation of creative writing. They have never had Shepard in a workshop.”
October kicks off with a mega-dose of new fiction: Ancient Light by John Banville, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, It’s Fine By Me by Per Petterson, The Heart Broke In by James Meek, In Sunlight and in Shadow by Mark Helprin, Live by Night by Dennis Lehane, and Have You Seen Marie? by Sandra Cisneros. And that doesn’t even include debuts Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, That’s Not a Feeling by Dan Josefson, and Safe As Houses by Marie-Helene Bertino. And there’s more: graphic novel master Chris Ware’s Building Stories, The Paris Review’s collection Object Lessons (we interviewed one of the Steins behind the book) and this year’s Best American Short Stories collection. Finally, Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim is out in a new NYRB Classics edition with an introduction by Keith Gessen.
A half-century ago, Thomas Berger published Little Big Man, a satire of Westerns that helped increase the stature of the Western genre as a whole. To mark the book’s 50th anniversary, Allen Barra reflects on its legacy, suggesting that it’s as good a candidate as any for the title of Great American Novel. Related: Daniel Kalder on the odd phenomenon of the Euro-Western.
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”