Susan Sontag once wrote that the truest way to portray illness was without metaphor. Our own Marie Myung-Ok Lee takes a look at autism in recent literature and the ways its writers (ranging from Don DeLillo, Jonathan Lethem, and Louise Erdrich) have often reduced those with autism to a literary construct.
Jonathan Lee, whose novel High Dive was published this week, writes about the “deep disquiet” of finishing your book. “There are lots of books on how to write, and lots of books on how to publish, but I’ve spent the last few weeks looking for a book with a title like How To Get Through The Period Between Finishing A Book and Seeing It In A Bookstore Without Losing Your Entire Grip on Reality. I have failed to find it.”
Is the practice of using writing as a metaphor for birth, or birth as a metaphor for writing, in need of an overhaul? Stephanie Feldman for Electric Literature has some strong opinions on the subject. Motherhood on the brain, now? Check out this moving essay for The Millions on mothers and sons by Rachel Basch.
Dave Eggers’ latest, A Hologram for the King, is out today. Also out this week is an under-the-radar, new effort from Richard Russo, Interventions, a collection that’s a collaboration with his artist daughter Kate Russo. Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be? is out (Don’t miss our illuminating interview). And Michael Frayn has a new novel, Skios. More new fiction: Don Winslow’s The Kings of Cool (a prequel to Savages), Joshua Henkin’s The World Without You, and Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell the Wolves I’m Home. In non-fiction, There’s David Maraniss’ Barack Obama: The Story.
Is “the two-person collaboration… the essential creative act”? Joshua Wolf Shenk thinks so, and he’s written a book defending his position, aptly titled The Powers of Two: Finding the Essence of Innovation in Creative Pairs. While John Lennon and Paul McCartney are his primary examples and the root of his argument, famous author duos are also referenced – C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, for one. Shenk even “works to transform even famously lonely figures — Rainer Maria Rilke, Emily Dickinson, Martin Luther King Jr. — into one side of a duet.” Consider us skeptical but intrigued.
Patrick Reardon looks at 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die for the Chicago Tribune, and decides he wants to add his own favorites. Check out his eclectic list at the end of the piece. (thanks Steve)Maud mentioned off-hand that she abandons 95% of the books she starts before page 50. Sandra posted that this was “quite a failure rate,” and Maud responds in the comments that in this case she was “pining for a very specific kind of manic reading experience that happens for me maybe ten times a year now rather than every few days, as it did when I was a child.”Dogbert writes a book: “It’s part fake autobiography and part plagiarism” (via H2O)Pinky is about to start an MFA program at Pitt. The reading list looks excellent.Harper Lee will have an item in O of all places. According to the AP story, “a letter for Oprah Winfrey’s magazine on how she became a reader as a child in a rural, Depression-era Alabama town.” It’s for the July “special summer reading issue.”