“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.
“An easel stood just inside the big glass doorway when I entered the store. On it leaned my author photo, the one from the back cover of Domestic Violets, and it was fucking enormous. It was the size of a photo you’d expect to see if Bono had been appearing at Barnes & Noble, Bill Clinton maybe, or perhaps the Reverend Desmund Tutu. For a full 30 seconds I stood there and looked at the gigantic, painstakingly airbrushed picture of myself. An elderly couple walked in and did a double take when they saw a stunned-looking me looking at me. ‘It’s too big,’ I told them.” This is what you do when no one shows up to your reading.
It’s another huge week for new releases. Happy Murakami day! Haruki Murakami’s long-awaited 1Q84 is finally here – look for our review tomorrow, as is Walter Isaacson’s headline-making biography of Steve Jobs. Also out is another massive and hotly anticipated work in translation (1152 pages!), Hungarian Peter Nadas’s Parallel Stories. Lydia Millet has a new novel out, Ghost Lights, and Thinking, Fast and Slow is set to arrive from Nobel-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman.
Here’s a treat for those of us occupying the center of a Venn Diagram depicting “college football” and “literature” circles: Holly Anderson has written a high school football scouting report for Daisy Miller… in the style of Henry James.
Julia Fierro is a writer we’ve featured before, and her first novel Cutting Teeth was published last month. But as she explains in a new piece, there was a stretch of time when she didn’t write at all. “I was so cruel to myself, so impatient, beating myself up daily for not writing,” she says. “It took seven years worth of teaching… before I returned to writing with solid commitment. And when I did sit down in front of my computer, I was a better writer.”
“When I go back to Bogotá, I like to share my knowledge of the car bombs that went off in the city in the ’80s and ’90s. I helpfully point out the gory details to cab drivers and friends. I press my finger on the window and point at corners, ‘That’s the spot where an ATM blew up, seven dead.’” From Bogatá to Tel Aviv — here are ten writers on the places they immigrated from, returned to, remember, and call home.