Cat Marnell and Alana Massey both have new books out, and they are, in their own ways, variants on the genre of “confessional” writing. In an essay for Slate, Katy Waldman unpacks their essential appeal and their arguments, describing how each goes about the task of reinventing the concept of the memoir. You could also read our interview with Massey.
MacArthur Genius™ Deborah Eisenberg, whom we've often celebrated here, publishes her 1,000-page Collected Stories this month - we ardently commend it to your attention. If you've read 'em all already, get your Eisenberg fix at the NYRB, where she reviews Dezsõ Kosztolányi's "quiet, shattering, perfect" novel Skylark.
"Directly you are in motion you will feel quite helpless, and experience a sensation of being run away with, and it will seem as if the machine were trying to throw you off." The bicycle was little more than a confusing craze back in 1877. The London Library has just uncovered some fascinating and hilarious vintage educational pamphlets on everything from 'The Gentlewoman’s Book of Sports' to 'Cycling As a Cause of Heart Disease.'
Winter’s Bone author Daniel Woodrell has a new book out, and to mark the occasion, he talks with Dwyer Murphy of Guernica about his upcoming book tour, Southern poverty and the rejections Winter’s Bone received. Sample quote: "When my family started doing better and my parents encouraged my brothers and me to succeed beyond them, we started asking why our parents were telling us to strive so hard to live in these neighborhoods full of people they clearly resented—and feared too, I think."
This week, Allison K. Gibson looked into the “awkward but necessary role of technology in fiction,” and what it means to include it or overlook it in a given work of fiction. Similarly, what’s with the absence of birth scenes in literature?
Is long form nonfiction returning to prominence and popularity? Folks at The LA Times' blog think so. Anna Clark has posted a list of recommended reading for aspiring nonfiction writers, too.
Mark Twain first rose to fame as the author of an essay about a frog-jumping contest in California. Originally titled “Jim Smiley and His Jumping Frog,” the essay went viral in America’s biggest newspapers, eventually inspiring the New York Tribune to write of Twain that “no reputation was ever so rapidly won.” Yet the humor which made the essay so popular is often lost on modern audiences, in no small part because, as Ben Turnoff writes in Lapham’s Quarterly, frontier humor isn’t funny if there's no Wild West.