What did we read in the Obama era? Christian Lorentzen has some answers. Apart from individual books like The Flamethrowers and The Art of Fielding, he comes up with some genres that have dominated the past eight years, including autofiction, works of trauma and fables of meritocracy. (You can probably guess where Leaving the Atocha Station ends up.)
"I’m drawn to books that deal in fragments and digressions, authors that patch together something larger from these pieces while also letting them stand on their own." Sam Stephenson writes about "reimagining what a biography can look like" and reading Tennessee Williams: Notebooks, edited by Margaret Bradham Thornton, in a piece for The Paris Review. He also mentions Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, which Tyler Gillespie recently reviewed for The Millions.
“If you’re doing an assignment for some Luddite professor who insists on originality – and probably uses typewriter ribbon – keep in mind that I only offer phrases from hard-to-trace sources. Just today I was slipped some primo stuff from an English teacher in Simonton, Iowa who’s been advising the high school literary magazine for decades. This woman, her voice is as smooth as creamed corn.” Confessions of a metaphor merchant.
“So a single image can split open the hard seed of the past, and soon memory pours forth from every direction, sprouting its vines and flowers up around you till the old garden’s taken shape in all its fragrant glory.” Read an excerpt from Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir at Longreads. Pair with Beth Kephart’s essay on how memoir can be a conversation between reader and writer.
Neil Gaiman announced the launch of his first video game, Wayward Manor. The horror-fantasy author (whose latest book was recently reviewed by our own Tess Malone) told Mashable that the game follows “the misadventures of a ghost who wants nothing more than a peaceful afterlife.”
Friends, former students and admirers are rallying around poet Dean Young. Young, who has taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and a number of other MFA programs, is in need of a heart transplant, and fellow poet Tony Hoagland has put out a call for help. (Thanks Arna)