For NPR, debut novelist Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai discusses her book, The Mountains Sing, which follows four generations of a Vietnamese family and centers on a grandmother and granddaughter. By combining family lore with historical research, she tells a story of a family dealing with the realities of war. “I could only write The Mountains Sing having lived through difficult times,” she explains. “Only through experiencing by myself the challenges faced by the poorest of the poor, the most desperate, could I have that empathy.”
US Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Geata and her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlaic Snell, showed that, indeed, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is dead. The couple shared a kiss in the Navy tradition: winning a raffle for the first kiss on the pier after a ship returns from sea.
Franz Kafka liked to drink milk as he wrote. Walt Whitman liked a breakfast of cold meat and oysters. Marcel Proust was an espresso addict. This info graphic from The New York Times raises the question: what do you snack on as you write? You might also want to snack as you read that article, so check out our own Lydia Kiesling‘s piece from last April.
Michael Chabon is really into prog rock. And I just picked up a couple of great Emerson Lake & Palmer LPs. So now I’ve got a soundtrack for reading Telegraph Avenue, which I’m especially stoked on after our own Michael Bourne’s review of the novel, devoted as I am to the “brilliant little brushstrokes of language.”
Everyone’s been there: the bookstore event at which the reader drones on and on. The Observer shares some reading horror stories (and a few successes). Sarah McNally of NYC’s McNally Jackson bookstore says, “The traditional reading format is broken.”
Will anyone read Chuck Klosterman in a hundred years? Jonathan Russell Clark explores the possibility over at The Literary Hub: “What fate awaits the author of books so rooted in a given era? Can the accomplishment of capturing now remain significant or noteworthy forever? Will anyone read Klosterman in the future? And if they do, how will they read him?” In the mood for more JRC? How about his essay on the art of the first sentence?
The good souls at Longform.org have organized all of this year’s National Magazine Award winners.