Notoriously private, J.D. Salinger would not have liked the new exhibit of his family photos, letters, and notes currently on display at the New York Public Library, organized by his son, Matt Salinger. Despite this, the carefully curated collection includes a “phony” publication acceptance letter from Salinger’s mother, a metal bowl Salinger made as a child, and hand-drawn mock-ups of the minimalist book covers that accompany his works. “He sat down in his leather chair in the living room. I remember it was winter time. And he sketched it out. He was focused,” Matt Salinger told The New York Times. “He writes about distrusting the word ‘creativity.’ He always thought it was a space you’re allowed to enter. You’re given things to share by whatever God you think is operative. There’s a release in that, and an ease. It’s not the tortured artist, pounding things out. That was not his affect at all when he was writing. There was joy in it.”
“I can tell you that it was his agent who thought it was a bad idea, when the book was first published, to have a black hero.” Roald Dahl‘s widow says that he intended for the eponymous hero of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to be “a little black boy.” Pair with our own Jacob Lambert‘s fond recollection of reading Dahl to his son.
In TNR, Ruth Franklin attempts to debunk the “strangely antiquated definition of American writing” posited in Dalkey’s Best European Fiction anthology. (via)
“‘All of these things happened to me with keys,’ she says. ‘It was as if the keys were saying, “Don’t talk about us.” It was as if they didn’t like it.’” Year in Reading alum Helen Oyeyemi discusses her fascination with keys and What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours at NPR. For writing from the author, check out her piece on Silvina Ocampo’s Thus Were Their Faces.
Marjorie Liu is the author of Monstress, a new comic from Image. In her free time, she has also earned a law degree and published over twenty novels, novellas, short stories, and comics. Hear what she has to say about diversity, the body, and writing. You could also read our review of The Best American Comics 2014.