Lucy Ellmann’s Booker Prize-nominated novel, Ducks, Newburyport, is 1,030 pages of stream of consciousness writing narrated by an Ohio housewife—not exactly the kind of book one easily translates into the audio format. Yet actress Stephanie Ellyne was tasked with just that, as Laura Snapes at the Guardian explains. “For 45 hours and 34 minutes, Ellyne reads Ellmann’s text in a calm, bemused voice that recalls Laurie Anderson’s spoken-word work. During recording, she averaged 41 pages per hour, though the work continued away from the microphone. Every night, Ellyne would read and research the following day’s pages, working out how to pronounce the thousands of place names and obscure historical battles in US history. ‘My engineer and I wondered if some of them were fictional, but sure enough, they’re true,’ says Ellyne. ‘The violence in America—all these shootings—isn’t new.'”
In memory of Peter Matthiessen, The Missouri Review has unlocked an interview with him from 1989. Matthiessen detailed the beginning of his writing career. “I started my first novel and sent off about four chapters and waited by the post office for praise to roll in, calls from Hollywood, everything. Finally my agent sent me a letter that said ‘Dear Peter, James Fenimore Cooper wrote this a hundred and fifty years ago, only he wrote it better. Yours, Bernice.’ I probably needed that; it was very healthy.” For more Matthiessen, you can read one of his best travel essays or his new novel, In Paradise.
With a huge winter storm bearing down on the East Coast, the Hopkinton library in Massachusetts did the only sensible thing: they erected a sign extolling the virtues of curling up with a book. What makes theirs unique is that, unlike many of their peers, they found a way to avoid the “warm yourself up” cliché. (Previously spotted on Reddit: “What are some good books to read [in jail?]”)