At the Guardian, Elena Ferrante gave a rare interview to booksellers and translators and discussed her newest book, The Lying Life of Adults, as well as her acclaimed Neopolitan Novels. “Going away is important but not decisive,” she says. “Lenù goes away, Lila never abandons Naples, but they both develop, their lives are full of events. As I’ve said, I feel close to Elena’s choices. We don’t have to fear change, what is other shouldn’t frighten us. But staying doesn’t seem wrong to me; what’s essential is that our ‘I’ not be impoverished if we should confine ourselves to a space forever. I like people who are able to have bold adventures just going from one end to the other of the street where they were born. I imagined Lila like that.”
Sam Tanenhaus, editor of the New York Times Book Review, talks to Noah Charney about his life, his work, and his taste in books. Answers are typical but insightful, with one incredibly colorful exception: Tanenhaus’s ideal workplace is bizarre. (Hint: The atmosphere falls somewhere between a nuclear fallout shelter and the kind of place you would keep a hostage and it’s nothing like where we write.)
You may have heard that X-Files star David Duchovny published a novel last week. The
book, which developed out of an idea Duchovny had in college, centers on a teenage cow named Elsie who befriends a Yiddish-speaking pig. At Salon, Anna Silman interviews the actor/author, who talks about his book’s allegorical nature and his rumored beef with Vancouver.
“This is a huge generalization, but [American novels] have tended not to have all the elements that make it good for television, whether it’s too interior or there’s not enough action. The Brits tended to write more colorful stories rather than the darkness and struggle. Dickens and Trollope certainly knew how to write sequels, books that would make good ongoing series again and again. And the greatest love stories are in the Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. I don’t know what our equivalent is.” In a piece for The Atlantic Spencer Kornhaber wonders, “Is American Literature Too Dark for TV?“
New this week are Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, The Illumination by Kevin Brockmeier, Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer by Wesley Stace (the pen name of singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding), and buzzed about debut The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore by Benjamin Hale. On the nonfiction side is a new biography, Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall. And new in paperback is Millions Hall of Famer The Big Short by Michael Lewis.
What’s the deal with all of the novels about famous writers? Perhaps it has to do with the fact that, according to Heller McAlpin at The Literary Hub, “there’s a special frisson of pleasure in reading about writers’ early struggles when you know what the future holds for them—which in the case of most of these authors is posthumous literary acclaim beyond their wildest dreams.”