With his upcoming book, Something That May Shock and Discredit You, coming out in January, Daniel Mallory Ortberg talks to Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore at The Guardian about the wide array of subjects addressed in the book. He covers everything from William Shatner and HGTV’s House Hunters to the Book of Genesis, particularly one story: “I think there’s so much in the story with Jacob wrestling with the angel of Penuel. I wrote that story from the angel’s perspective. So much of that story feels like it has a lot of trans-resonance. There’s no explanation about what the figure—the angel—comes for. It ends with this strange touch where afterwards he never walks the same way again. He has a new name. He is no longer called Jacob.”
The novelist Julie Schumacher wrote her latest, Dear Committee Members, entirely in the form of letters of recommendation. The format allowed her to illustrate the travails of a creative writing professor through a medium often ignored in fiction. At The Awl, Jessica Gross and Merve Emre talk about the novel. Pair with: Cathy Day on academia’s novel crisis.
FSG just launched their new online literary periodical, Work in Progress. Check out their debut issue, where you’ll find Jeffrey Eugenides chatting about his latest book with Jonathan Galassi, fiction by Lydia Davis, summer book giveaways and photos from the FSG archives. Look for the clip from an FSG letter introducing Susan Sontag’s first book in 1963: “It is difficult, as you know, to create interest in new writers.”
Barnes & Noble’s newest device, Nook Tablet, was unveiled yesterday. At $249, it’s modestly more expensive than Kindle Fire at $199, but half the price of the iPad, which sells for $499 and up. And from a technological perspective, it may be closer to the iPad. So what will this mean for the last major brick-and-mortar bookseller?
We take it for granted that our language will grow and change. But one thing we think less often about is that our alphabet is subject to the same forces. Herewith, Carlos Lozada reads Michael Rosen’s new book Alphabetical, which delves into the origins and future prospects of our writing system.
When Octavia Butler died in 2006, she left behind unseen short stories. Butler’s agent has discovered two unpublished stories in the author’s papers. “A Necessary Being” features a lonely alien leader, and “Childminder” is about mentoring telepaths. The two stories will be published this summer in the collection Unexpected Stories.