“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.
Literary Disco, a podcast hosted by Julia Pistell, Tod Goldberg, and Rider Strong (yeah! Sean from Boy Meets World!) is just great. In the most recent installment the hosts revisit their bookshelves and describe their new findings from rereading some faves, including Strong’s overwhelming reaction to T.C. Boyle‘s author photo.
Out this week: Delicious Foods by James Hannaham; The Last Flight of Poxl West by Daniel Torday; Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum; The Other Joseph by Skip Horack; The Poser by Jacob Rubin; The Empire of the Senses by Alexis Landau; and The Dynamite Room by Jason Hewitt. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.
Bet you didn’t know this Saturday was the 25th anniversary of the first “going postal” shootings in Oklahoma. I have a piece at The Morning News examining America’s export of this peculiar brand of spree killings around the world, most recently to Oslo, Norway.
New York Review of Books Classics is having its annual Summer Sale, and some of the bundles this year are particularly enticing. For instance, you can grab perennial Millions favorite (and current international bestseller) Stoner as part of a bundle that also includes Renata Adler’s Speedboat. The publishers are also offering John Horne Burns’s lost masterpiece, The Gallery, as part of a collection of World War II novels. You may recall David Margolick’s great profile of Burns from the New York Times Magazine last month.
When Belarusian investigative journalist Svetlana Alexievich won the Nobel Prize earlier this year, her horrifying and poetic book Voices From Chernobyl exposed a great many readers to the Chernobyl disaster. Now, this piece from The Atlantic takes a look at Chernobyl’s literary legacy over the past three decades.
We’re pleased to announce a new feature here on The Millions, “Ask the Writing Teacher.” Our own Edan Lepucki will now be taking your questions about all things writing related, dialogue, plot, point of view, or other elements of writing that might be putting a pickle in your prose. Send your questions her way at askthewritingteacher[at]gmail[dot]com