“He believed it a privilege and a shame that his race and nationality gave him the chance to come and go from lands where a guillotine blade seemed to dangle forever over the local citizens.” Denis Johnson‘s longtime Esquire editor Will Blythe pens a remembrance of the writer for The New York Times. See also: our own Sonya Chung‘s recommendation of Johnson’s celebrated short story collection Jesus’ Son to a friend some years back. “I know it will knock him out,” she wrote. “It does (of course).”
"I have often thought that if I were ever a drag queen, and more specifically that if I were ever a drag queen who was a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, I would play Virginia Woolf — or rather, Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf — in the Snatch Game episode when the contestants don their very best celebrity impersonation." Untucking RuPaul's Drag Race at The Los Angeles Review of Books.
The latest installment in The Believer’s “What Would Twitter Do?” series (which we’ve mentioned before) features London Review of Books editor Christian Lorentzen, whose Twitter feed, Sheila Heti writes, “seem[s] like what someone who only expresse[s] himself as a fiction writer within the universe of twitter might come up with.” Meanwhile, Heti has a review of The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P. by Adelle Waldman in (where else?) the LRB.
The long-awaited follow-up to Yann Martel's Booker-winner Life of Pi is out: Beatrice and Virgil. Also new, Elegy for April, a thriller by John Banville alter ego Benjamin Black; David Lipsky's already much discussed interview with David Foster Wallace, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself; and, apparently hitting shelves ahead of its official release date, a book of philosophy by Marilynne Robinson, Absence of Mind.
Out this week: Made for Love by Alissa Nutting; The Reason You're Alive by Matthew Quick; The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins; The Tower of the Antilles by Achy Obejas; Out in the Open by Jesús Carrasco; and Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
“And then Obama comes over to my desk with the speech, and he has a few edits. And he’s like, ‘I just want to go through some of these edits and make sure you’re ok with this. I did this for this reason. Are you ok with that?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, buddy. You’re Barack Obama.’” Jon Favreau, former chief speechwriter to President Obama, sits down with Longform.