In her new novel, All This Could Be Yours, Jami Attenberg examines a family emerging from the shadow of their power-hungry patriarch. She spoke to Electric Literature about how familial identity passes down—and sometimes doesn’t. “The kids in this book, Alex and Gary, have made a series of conscious choices in their life to physically move as far away from their parents as possible,” she says. “They didn’t want to connect their adulthood to their childhood. Over the course of the book, they’re forced to contemplate their parents—their father is in the hospital, on the verge of death—and I was interested in seeing how these two characters, who have done everything they can to walk away from their family, consider their parents, again, and see if they’re anything like them.”
With the full trailer out for the upcoming James Bond release, Skyfall, I have to confess I’m totally obsessing over British spy stuff of late. Luckily there are some supplements to scratch that itch: Tina Rosenberg’s new story for The Atavist, D for Deception, about a real British spy writer who became a spy himself; Bee Wilson’s fascinating review of Ben MacIntyre’s outrageous but true investigation of WWII double agents, Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies; Alexander Cockburn’s recap of the time George Orwell supplied “a list of the names of persons on the left who he deemed security risks” to the IRD; the story of Ernest Hemingway’s lousy espionage; and the video Her Royal Majesty’s recent skydiving escapade with 007.
Andrew Phelps interviews Sarah Wolzin, director of MIT’s new Open Documentary Lab, which “brings technologists, storytellers, and scholars together to advance the new arts of documentary.” The Lab, according to Phelps, is “part think tank, part incubator for filmmakers and hackers.”
“I do not find it unusual that many writers I know acquire vintage clothes, buy old homes, and rescue animals. For one, we don’t have Wall Street salaries, and secondly, we’re suckers for backstory, particularly that which is left to the imagination. Our job, after all, is to make up lives, engage in epic games of pretend.” Megan Mayhew Bergman writes for Ploughshares about collecting cast-off objects, “the chaos of memories,” and becoming a writer. Pair with David L. Ulin‘s reflection on Bergman’s essay and the way we think about memory, written for the LA Times.
Is it another Beyoncé/Lemonade thinkpiece? Yes. Is it also more than that and worth your time to read? Yes. Terryn Hall at The Rumpus on Beyoncé, Erykah Badu, and being a black woman in the South: “Although Beyoncé is not ‘literary’ in a traditional sense, she’s using her power to usher in new black poetic (Warsan Shire) musical (Ibeyi, Chloe and Halley Bailey) and modeling (Jourdan Dunn, Zendaya) talent in a manner similar to that of the literary patrons of yesteryear.”
Talk about burying the lede. This article about Alec Baldwin’s return to television acting, and how he’ll be playing “a Rob Ford-type mayor of New York,” doesn’t make a big deal out of the show’s pilot writer. But it should. Because his name is Wells Tower.
New this week: Loitering by Charles d’Ambrosio; The End of Days by Jenny Erpenbeck; Windows on the World, a collection of Paris Review essays illustrated by Matteo Pericoli (Karl Ove Knausgaard’s contribution is excerpted here); The Heart Has Its Reasons by María Dueñas; A Woman Without a Country by Eavan Boland; Love Poems by Bertolt Brecht; and Family Furnishings, a new selection of short stories by Nobel laureate Alice Munro. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.