At CRAFT, Leesa Cross-Smith discusses her story collection, So We Can Glow, her upcoming novel, This Close to Okay, and how she uncovers a story’s beginning. “I almost always start with some sort of visual of a tiny moment or a word or a line of dialogue. Sometimes it’s a fully formed character, but not as often. It can be someone touching someone else’s hand or the cuff of a sweater.” Cross-Smith has published flash fiction, short stories, and novels, and says the different formats allow her to revisit her characters. “I give myself room to circle back. That’s why so often I write flash fiction or a short story about a character and return to that same character later, because I’m not finished. And it’s not that I need to make the original story longer…but it’s because I want to meet them again…wherever they are…and listen.”
The new novel by Colm Tóibín draws largely from the author’s memories of his father passing away when he was young. In a Guardian essay, the author writes about his discovery that literature can be a vessel for grief, with a nod to the writer and Dublin mainstay Mary Lavin. If you’d like to learn more about Tóibín’s fiction, you can read our pieces on his books.
After a Boston attorney banned the publication of Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman set out to defend the book, arguing that the sex that earned the book censorship was an integral part of the experience he wanted to convey. In an essay for Salon, John Marsh examines Whitman’s defense in light of the content of his work, exploring the ways in which he upset Puritan mores. You could also read our own Michael Bourne on how Walt Whitman saved his life.
New York Review of Books Classics is having its annual Summer Sale, and some of the bundles this year are particularly enticing. For instance, you can grab perennial Millions favorite (and current international bestseller) Stoner as part of a bundle that also includes Renata Adler’s Speedboat. The publishers are also offering John Horne Burns’s lost masterpiece, The Gallery, as part of a collection of World War II novels. You may recall David Margolick’s great profile of Burns from the New York Times Magazine last month.
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.”
David Lodge never set out to be a writer of campus novels, but that may end up being his legacy, thanks to his most famous books, Changing Places and Small World. In the LRB, Stefan Collini reviews a new book of essays and an autobiography by the author, the latter of which covers the first forty years of his life.