For the New York Times Style Magazine, Claire Messud reflects on one of Edith Wharton‘s most memorable characters, Undine Spragg from The Custom of the Country. “The fact that The Custom of the Country is entertaining — that it seems to whisk us, as readers, to a faraway time and to glamorous places — doesn’t mean that Undine Spragg’s dogged rise through the social ranks of the early 20th century is irrelevant to our times,” Messud writes. “Wharton’s clear but complex vision (whether Undine is ultimately heroine or antihero is not entirely obvious) follows her protagonist as she navigates ever more rarefied realms, from the dining rooms and opera boxes of Manhattan to the spas and châteaus of France, each with its own language and conventions, in search of the ultimate triumph — though what that may be, beyond enormous wealth, is never entirely clear, and remains just out of reach.”
At Jacket Copy, Carolyn Kellogg talks with Jonathan Lethem about his new novel Chronic City “I love to dwell in the space of a novel — I don’t find writing uncomfortable, it’s something I really love doing. Writing a long novel, especially, it means that I’m creating this whole other set of people that I’m interested in, and this whole other world I get to go into, and I try to stay there. I try to go every day, not just to see the word count amass, which is helpful, but because then my subconscious is kind of living there.”
Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin discusses the lessons he’s learned over the past year. He also gives a shout out to Underground, a film by Serbian director Emir Kusturica. Elsewhere, Zeitlin shares some of the music, books, and movies he’s been enjoying of late.
Dzanc Books began the submissions period for its 2013-2014 Non-Fiction Award. The indie press is looking for memoir, political, historical, and biographical manuscripts. Millions contributor Nathan Deuel – whose book Friday Was the Bomb will be published by Dzanc in May — will select a winner from among a list of ten finalists, and the top manuscript will be published in the Fall of 2015. The deadline to enter is June 30, 2014.
Want to be published by Penguin? For $99 (£60), you can! As stated in this Guardian article, “Penguin USA will provide the service through its genre-fiction online community, Book Country, which launched in May offering wannabe authors the opportunity to post their work online and receive feedback.” The news comes on the heels of Amazon’s announcement that Amanda Hocking has become the second self-published author to tally 1,000,000 Kindle sales.
At Condalmo, Matthew Tiffany‘s review of David Lipsky’s new book, Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace: “You can’t go more than two or three pages without Lipsky’s shadow falling over the text. And you aren’t reading this book for the Lipsky, are you? The biggest problem here is that, like it or not, his fingerprints are all over it. And I didn’t like it.”