“Proulx’s deep reverence for the beauty and complexities of rural America has introduced millions of readers to the wide breadth of American life. Her commitment to crafting compassionate, honest stories has left an indelible mark on literature and created a powerful and enduring legacy.” Annie Proulx nabs the National Book Foundation’s lifetime achievement award. Check out her Year-in-Reading entry from this past year here.
In the world of selling books, it’s not all about the sentences. At Ploughshares, agent Eric Nelson argues: A fresh plot matters and unusual characters do, too. “The most interesting books have characters who do the opposite of what we’d do… Imagine Hamlet, if Hamlet took decisive action. Horror movies wouldn’t exist at all without the idiot who always suggests they split up.”
You might have heard that a new Shirley Jackson book appeared on shelves this week. A collection of previously unpublished work, Let Me Tell You was published by Penguin Random House, which happens to be the place where Benjamin Dreyer, a lifelong Shirley Jackson fan, works as a copy chief and managing editor. At The Toast, he describes how it felt to edit his favorite writer.
“I remembered Def Leppard for their one-armed drummer arrested for spousal abuse. Meanwhile Prince played, like, twenty different instruments while having sex in the backseat of taxicabs, ducking the Antichrist, and shouting for gun control. Also: girlfriend on drums. What’s fair is fair.” The Prince-related thinkpieces have mostly subsided by now, but this new piece by Dave Tompkins at The Paris Review will make you glad that people are continuing to write about him.
The New York Times Book Review commissioned a work of fiction about the election from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She chose to write about Melania Trump. If you can handle more Trump, check out Greg Chase’s portrait of a Trump supporter, based on Faulkner’s The Sound and The Fury.