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 Bookforum, Rebecca Donner talks with former Granta editor John Freeman about his new book of interviews, How to Read a Novelist. Freeman says that he enjoys interviewing writers in their homes because it allows him to observe them more closely: “The writer thinks you’re taking notes about what he’s saying, but you’re really writing, ‘His head looks like a lion’s head.’”
“It’s strange to keep confronting, in these stylistic ways, how you were constructed. What you were constructed to be in the world.” Margo Jefferson sits down with BOMB Magazine to discuss feminism, class, and her memoir, Negroland. Our own Michael Bourne writes on the art of memoir.
Recommended Reading: “The Misanthropic Genius of Joy Williams” in The New York Times Magazine. Her latest collection of short stories, The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories, which was included on our most anticipated list, will be released on September 8th. “When I asked Williams what she wants out of a great story, she replied, ‘I want to be devastated in some way.’”
“Publishing is also an industry that selectively values a kind of swaggering authenticity that would never capitulate to demands for something so banal as being nice. But authenticity is too often a short hand for callous, aloof, or honest for the purpose of cruelty rather than truth-seeking.” Alana Massey writes about the “niceness” of publishing.