After nearly a decade, Elizabeth Strout is revisiting her character Olive Kitteridge in a new book, Olive, Again. Its predecessor, Olive Kitteridge, won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize and gained some rather fervent fans. Strout discussed the character’s surprising popularity with Emma Brockes at the Guardian. “Ever since I was a child, I always wanted to know what it felt like to be another person,” Strout says. “That’s the engine that has propelled me. What does it feel like to be that person, sitting on the subway – I can see her trousers are a little snug so I know what that would feel like. I would spend so much time trying to figure out what it feels like to be another person.”
In 1970, a journalist named Joseph Epstein wrote an essay for Harper’s that came to a frightening conclusion: that Epstein would, if possible, “wish homosexuality off the face of the Earth.” The incendiary language inspired Merle Miller, a former editor at the magazine, to publish a call-to-arms, “What It Means to Be a Homosexual,” that became the basis of the book On Being Different. Emily Greenhouse puts the essay in context at Page-Turner.
This week has been full of news about unorthodox children’s book authors. First, there was Keith Richards’s picture book, and now an Australian academic claims that Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung wrote children’s books, too. “I was astounded that children’s books (purportedly) written by Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung were vastly more readable than one would expect from any political leader in the democratic west, still less a severe authoritarian,” doctoral student Christopher Richardson said.
Is there an indie press that consistently punches up as high and as successfully as Two Dollar Radio? They’re the ones who unleashed The Orange Eats Creeps onto our shelves three years ago, and they followed it up shortly thereafter with the breakout work of Scott McClanahan. Now? Now they’re poised for a threepeat with Shane Jones’s Crystal Eaters, which has already earned its author interviews on Hobart and The Paris Review. (Bonus: TDR’s publisher on moving his outfit to Ohio.)
After five years, Lev Grossman has released the final book in his Magicians trilogy, aptly reviewed in the Sunday Times by our own Edan Lepucki. At Slate, the Awl cofounder, Year in Reading alum and novelist Choire Sicha looks back on the series as a whole. After reading through all three entries, Choire poses a simple but hard-to-answer question: is main character Quentin truly the central figure of the books? It might also be a good time to read our interview with Grossman.