Nicole Dennis-Benn discusses her latest book, Patsy, a novel that explores issues of motherhood, the working class, sexual identity, and immigration, with Concepción de León. The complicated protagonist of the novel makes a series of difficult decisions throughout the book, forcing Dennis-Benn to take on perspectives not always familiar to her. “Sometimes I take breaks, maybe a week or two to really assess, ‘What am I really judging?’ For example, with the motherhood part, I’m judging this woman who absolutely cannot embrace her role as a mother. Realizing I had to really unpack my own upbringing, my own socialization as a Jamaican woman—or a woman, in general—and then move forward.”
“In re-organizing the priorities of book publishing—by inventing new models rather than trying to repeat past success, by valuing ingenuity over magnitude, by thinking of sales as a way to make great books possible rather than the point—indie presses aren’t just becoming the places where the best books are published; they’re already there.” Over at The Atlantic, Nathan Scott McNamara writes on why American publishing needs indie presses. For more of his writing, check out his essay on Denis Johnson for The Millions.
In this week’s New York Times Magazine, a collaboration with ProPublica has produced a 13,000-word (!) article on what happened at New Orleans Memorial Medial Center where a number of patients died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Who says long-form journalism is dead!
“Nothing in Born to Run rings to me as unmeant or punch-pulling. If anything, Springsteen wants credit for telling it the way it really is and was. And like a fabled Springsteen concert — always notable for its deck-clearing thoroughness — Born to Run achieves the sensation that all the relevant questions have been answered by the time the lights are turned out.” Richard Ford reviews The Boss’s new book for the New York Times.
A while ago, I pointed readers to Charles Yu’s review of Buffalo Wild Wings, published as part of the series Novelists in Restaurants Eating Food. Now, on the other side of the tacky-bourgeois spectrum, Amelia Gray reviews Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle. Sample quote: “While I’m at home, or at work, reading or staring into space, it’s good to know that somewhere, a soup is doing the work of becoming more delicious.”
Why innovate when you can just Google and copy? Mark Pagel on the perils of “being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet.”