Did you do your taxes? In Souvankham Thammavongsa’s new fiction for The Paris Review, a woman loses her job of 15 years and enrolls in classes at a tax-prep company. Although she is more of a humanities person, the numbers make sense to her; tax returns, she discovers, are all about people. “The tax return,” she thinks, “is, in some ways, a record of truth. People give you what they have. Or, at least, you count on that.” Required reading for anyone who’s ever had a meltdown in an accountant’s office.
At My Life and Thoughts, Elif Batuman–in delightfully Elifish style–describes her first book travails and unveils a preliminary sketch for the cover of her forthcoming first book The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them, drawn by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.
“Being nominated for an award feels the way I imagine winning the lottery must feel: You’re deeply grateful and a little disoriented, you feel very lucky, and you know that it could just as easily have been someone else.” Our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about “the vast distance between literary prizes and literary work” and reading Norman Mailer for The Atlantic‘s By Heart series (which we’ve covered many, many times before).
“Still, what he captured with genius was the ontological unease of a world in which the human and the abhuman, the real and the fake, blur together.” An essay in the Boston Review argues the importance of Philip K. Dick‘s literature— where the real and fake intersect and collide — and the world we live in today. From our archive: on the pleasures of Dick’s sometimes awful prose.
The new David Mitchell novel, The Bone Clocks, ends in rural Ireland, which explains why Kathryn Schulz chose to interview Mitchell on a walk through the Irish countryside. At Vulture, she talks with Mitchell about supercontinents, writing in childhood and the global scope of his work. You could also read the story Mitchell recently wrote on Twitter.
Catcher in the Rye author J.D. Salinger has died at 91. Update: The New Yorker has linked to twelve of Salinger’s stories available to subscribers online.