In 1994, Maya Angelou cooked a meal of crowder peas, okra, and beef for a crowd of 150 people. The dinner was in honor of Toni Morrison—who had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature the previous year—and U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. Although Angelou is less often associated with cooking and food writing, she would go on to write two underrated cookbooks, Mayukh Sen writes in an article for The Guardian. In Hallelujah! The Welcome Table and Great Food, All Day Long, Angelou’s food writing “hums with the same vibrancy that marks her more prominent work.”
Any writer who has felt the sting of rejection—that is, all writers—will be inspired by the story of Dick Wimmer, who has died at the age of 74. Over the course of 25 years, a total of 162 agents and publishers rejected Wimmer’s first novel, Irish Wine, before it was finally published by Mercury House in 1989. The New York Times called it a “taut, finely written, exhaustingly exuberant first novel.” The L.A. Times invoked James Joyce in its review. Wimmer, the iron man of the rejection wars, went on to publish two sequels, Boyne’s Lassie and Hagar’s Dream (All three books are now available in a single volume from Soft Skull.) The moral of Wimmer’s story? Never give up.
“If Earth overheats and crops and fuel become scarce, guess what? I know good bartering supplies include tampons, mercury fillings, eyeglasses. One particularly anxious day I read instructions on how to cook on my woodstove—so in the early days of environmental apocalypse and culture collapse, my family will enjoy bygone potatoes roasted over hot coals and underdone loaves of bread.” Year in Reading alumna Megan Mayhew Bergman prepares herself for the apocalypse.
If you see something, read something: Yesterday New York City’s MTA launched Subway Reads, an eight-week-long initiative allowing strap-hangers to download novellas, short stories, or excerpts from books via the city’s new(ish) wi-fi service in 175 underground stations. They’ve even timed the length of Which news in turn begs the question: what would Borges say?
Year in Reading alum Maud Newton has a new short story up on Medium. Titled “Nobody’s Stranger,” the “Miami noir love story” somewhat wonderfully features a bar, “the most incongruous bar in Little Haiti,” in which the patrons are mostly “aging emo kids and British soccer fans and overweight burlesque enthusiasts.”
Our own Michael Bourne takes a look at Thomas King’s Inconvenient Indian, which struggled to find a publisher in the United States despite flying off the shelves in Canada. “The curious publication history of [the book],” Bourne writes, “serves as a window into the wide differences in the way mainstream Americans and Canadians view the Native peoples in their midst.”