“The morning after the opening sentence took shape, Heller “arrived at work”—at the Merrill Anderson Company—“with my pastry and container of coffee and a mind brimming with ideas, and immediately in longhand put down on a pad the first chapter of an intended novel.” The handwritten manuscript totaled about 20 pages. He titled it Catch-18. The year was 1953.” Happy Birthday Joseph Heller, author of the anti-war classic Catch-22, born this day in 1923 in Coney Island, New York.
New Yorker darling Tessa Hadley has a new novel out this week, The London Train. Also out is the controversial oral history of ESPN, Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, which reportedly offers up ample doses of insider gossip and bad behavior. And finally, there’s The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media, in which contemporary journalism is explored in a graphic novel format. Here’s a taste.
“You’ll engage with your advisor in a free-form dialogue about essential skills such as plotting your next career, pacing your financial ruin, structuring TV binge-watching during optimal writing hours, and characterizing all of this as ‘learning how to fail.'” Hey, this new low-competency MFA from the fictitious Half Mast College sounds pretty great. Here’s our own Hannah Gersen on why she has foregone the MFA route entirely.
Not long after James Lasdun released his new book, Give Me Everything You Have, Jessica Freeman-Slade reviewed it for The Millions. Now, in the latest issue of the LRB, Nick Richardson offers his own take. (You could also check out our own Mark O’Connell’s interview with Lasdun.)
Apparently the confessional poets hated being known as confessional poets. Writers like John Berryman and W.D. Snodgrass responded badly when given the label. How do we understand their shared revulsion to the term? At The Paris Review Daily, an argument that we can find the answer in an unlikely place: The Twilight Zone.