On The Maris Review podcast, David Sedaris discusses what it’s like to promote a book during a pandemic and an election, what he wears at his writing desk, and much more. He personally selected the essays included in his greatest hits collection, The Best of Me, and says readers won’t find many examples of his earliest work. “I just see somebody trying so desperately to be funny, it’s just embarrassing to me,” he explains. “I think that’s interesting, too, when somebody says, ‘I really liked that thing you wrote 30 years ago.’ It’s like, gosh, can’t you see the difference between what I wrote last year and what I wrote 30 years ago? And a lot of people can’t. They can’t see the difference. But you know, they’re looking at the story, they’re not looking at the words that make up the story, they’re not noticing that a sentence has rhythm or doesn’t have rhythm. They’re in it for the story.” At the end of his conversation with host Maris Kreizman, Sedaris recommends three books: Wells Tower’s Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, Halle Butler’s The New Me, and Blake Bailey’s The Splendid Things We Planned.
“In this age of 140-character Twitter posts — not to mention a persistent undercurrent of minimalism in our literature — there’s something profoundly rejuvenating about the very long sentence.” From Hrabal to Joyce to Hugo, Ed Park explores the history of the literary long sentence.
It’s rare that a writer decides his new novel will be his last, but that’s exactly what Michael Faber has done with regards to his latest, which comes out this week. In the Times, he talks with Alexandra Alter about his decision, saying: “I felt that I had one more book in me that could be special and sincere and extraordinary, and that that would be enough.” It’s probably a good time to read our own Bill Morris on the history of literary retirements.
“It’s possible that when it comes to books, we have overestimated the means of delivery and have underestimated the importance of the content conveyed in the media.” A recent study demonstrated that preschoolers demonstrated the same level of reading comprehension regardless of whether the story they were, ahem, consuming came in digital or analog form, reports MOBY Lives. For more on the print vs. screen debate, see Alix Christie on the persistence of physical books; and of course it would be criminal not to mention our own founder C. Max Magee‘s killer compilation The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books.
Mitt Romney’s debate remark about where he finds women when he needs to fill some jobs has inspired hundreds of witty product reviewers on Amazon.