Wallace Shawn has written a new play, and it’s unsettling to watch. In it, a group of wealthy, middle-aged party hosts reveal their roles in a dystopian future, where political murders, random beatings and censorship are all commonplace. In an essay for The New York Review of Books, Francine Prose reviews the play in the context of Shawn’s other works.
Need some inspiration? These quotes from Joan Didion are sure to make your day. Picked by noted Ayn Rand scholar Mallory Ortberg, they include such gems as “I’m from Sacramento, but it’s honestly not a big deal” and “California doesn’t remind me of the apocalypse at all.”
"James Schiff, an associate professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, is working on a volume of Updike’s letters and has unearthed thousands of letters, postcards, and notes the author sent to complete strangers who wrote to him." The Guardian writes about an in-progress book of John Updike's letters that reveals how often the writer corresponded with not only his contemporaries, like John Barth and Joyce Carol Oates, but his readers as well. See also: an essay about the personal and literary relationship between Barth and Updike.
Out this week: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates; Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee; Armada by Ernest Cline; Among the Wild Mulattos and Other Tales by Tom Williams; Confession of the Lioness by Mia Couto; The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley; Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas; All This Life by Joshua Mohr; A Master Plan for Rescue by Janis Cooke Newman; Imperium by Christian Kracht; and The New World by Andrew Motion. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
What is it like to work for a major book publisher? In an excerpt from the new reprint of her My Misspent Youth, Meghan Daum discusses the myth of the glamorous editorial job, one in which no time is wasted reading self-help books and unauthorized biographies of cable stars. As she explains it, “We’re secretaries fully versed in Derrida, receptionists who have read Proust in French.” Also check out our own Hannah Gersen's review of Daum’s latest essay collection The Unspeakable.