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.
Ursula K. Le Guin has died at the age of 88, according to the New York Times and Le Guin’s family. The prolific science fiction and fantasy writer — best known for her Earthsea series and The Left Hand of Darkness — explored themes like politics, gender, religion, and environmentalism. However, Le Guin wrote across genre and published over 20 novels, 100 short stories, 7 essay collections, 13 children’s books, 5 volumes of translation, and a writer’s guide. No stranger to awards, Le Guin most recently won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Related Work for Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016. From our archives: The Millions interview with Le Guin from 2013.
“Bengali children’s fiction’s limitless supply of ghost stories is matched by little other than its readers’ appetite for it,” writes Siddharthya Swapan Roy. “Anthologies dedicated to ghostly thrills come out with unfailing regularity and every publishing house that does not wish to upset its child readership pays due respects to ghosts and their stories.”
“I first met Dean not long after Tryscha and I hooked up. I had just gotten over a wicked fucking hangover that I won’t bother to talk about, except that it had something to do with a six-foot-five douchebag and a beer bong… Before that I’d often dreamed of going West to see hot LA actress chicks and try In N’ Out burgers, always vaguely planning and never taking off.” – From On the Bro’d, where every sentence of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road is retold for Bros. (via The Rumpus)
Newsweek names “The Most Dangerous Man in Publishing.”Adam Kirsch interviewed about his new bio of Benjamin Disraeli.”Daily Routines: How writers, artists, and other interesting people organize their days.” (via Jacket Copy)David Horvitz discovers several pages of his writing in this year’s Dave Eggers-edited Best American Nonrequired Reading. He was not told that his work (pulled from his website) would be appearing in the book. Now he is peeved and has made several demands. (No permalinks, so check out the long Dec. 9 entry.) (Thanks Buzz)The LA Times unveils its Favorite Books 2008.Google’s year-end “Zeitgeist” of 2008 search activity. Breaking Dawn the unsurprising top search.Recently discovered aggregators of quality content: The Browser and Give Me Something to Read.This week’s Wikipedia treat: a gem of alternative punctuation: the “irony mark.” In the history section of that entry, take note of the “doubt point, certitude point, acclamation point, authority point, indignation point, and love point.”Scott gets to the bottom of the striking new cover designs on Dalkey Archive Press’ books.NPR features an excerpt from Firmin, a Millions favorite (and former LBC pick) that is soon to be published in a new edition by Delta, a Random House imprint.The Association of American Publishers teams with several celebs to create BooksAreGreatGifts.com and accompanying YouTube vid. “Books make great gifts because they are an amazing way to kill time while your web site is buffering.” – Jon Stewart. (thanks Laurie)
“Limits stop you from living a life without limits,” writes Augusten Burroughs. “Of course, this is only an illusion. What limits really do is give you an acceptable excuse to avoid doing something.” (He’s talking about life, not Oulipo.) The piece is excerpted from his recent book, This Is How.