“Fiction is messier. Essay is, for me, an attempt at a kind of clarity. I have a very messy and chaotic mind, but when I’m writing an essay I find I can exert a bit more control over it.” The The Guardian published a Q&A with Zadie Smith with questions from fellow authors, politicians, and fans. Smith’s upcoming essay collection, Feel Free, is featured in the first half of our 2018 Great Book Preview.
“Poe’s verses illustrate an intense faculty for technical and abstract beauty, with the rhyming art to excess, an incorrigible propensity toward nocturnal themes, a demoniac undertone behind every page—and, by final judgment, probably belong among the electric lights of imaginative literature, brilliant and dazzling, but with no heat.” – Walt Whitman on Edgar Allan Poe’s significance, circa 1880.
“In Saigon I always went to sleep stoned so I always lost my dreams, probably just as well, sock in deep and dim under that information and get whatever rest you could, wake up tapped of all images but the one remembered from the day before, with only the taste of a bad dream in your mouth like you’d been chewing on a roll of dirty old pennies in your sleep.” The 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time series over at The Guardian soldiers on with its ninth pick, Michael Herr’s Dispatches.
New out this week is Gryphon, Charles Baxter’s new collection of stories. Joseph McElroy also has a new collection of stories out, Night Soul. The latest McSweeney’s (featuring that fragment from an abandoned novel by Michael Chabon) is now available, and new in paperback is Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America. Many more new books to look forward to, of course, in our massive preview published last week.
“When the corrective to women’s exclusion from history is to find a few suitable individuals to pluck out of the messy rush of life and achievement, and hold up for admiration, we forget that many of women’s most important historical achievements…have been the product of collaboration, community, and collective action.” For Slate, Joanna Scutts writes about recent spate of historical books about rebellious, misbehaved women, and who is left out of those stories. From our archives: a list of vile women in fiction.
The new issue of The New York Review of Books is out. A highlight, as usual, is Michael Wood, who does a better job than we did with Inherent Vice. But those of us on this side of the pay wall will have to make do with Lorrie Moore‘s intriguing essay on Clarice Lispector.
Congratulations to Millions contributor Edan Lepucki who received the 2009 James D. Phelan Award for her novel manuscript, Days of Insignificance and Evil. The award is given by the Intersection for the Arts and sponsored by the San Francisco Foundation. She’ll be reading, along with Page McBee and Youmna Chlala, at the Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco on Monday, November 16th at 7:30.