At Autostraddle, Kristen Arnett discusses the inspiration behind her latest novel, With Teeth, and her ongoing obsession with dysfunctional families. “I’m obsessed with writing about families and thinking about families because families are so fucked up,” Arnett says. “It’s the most fun thing to write about. Every family, even families that are doing okay, have some fucked up elements to them. So I wanted to write about lesbians who were obviously very fucked up in their family and what that looks like both from the outside and what that looks like from the inside. Think about it this way — everybody in a family is an unreliable narrator. Even families who share the same stories don’t tell those stories in the same way. I wanted it to be this claustrophobic, sometimes terrifying, feeling story of how motherhood and queerness in this specific space could feel weirdly oppressive. You don’t understand yourself and the dysfunction gets to a point where it turns into this cyclical bad way to behave.”
At the Book Bench, slides of Roland Barthes’ diaries from 1977 in their original, hand-written form: “His brilliance, which indelibly influenced literary theory, semiotics, social theory, and post-structuralism, can make him seem as distant as he is renowned. Yet the diary entries… reveal Barthes to be extraordinarily sensitive and relatable.” (via The Rumpus)
Murray Farish‘s debut collection, Inappropriate Behavior, includes tales of fictionalized or alternative history that incline toward the surreal. He discusses the “principally and unaccountably strange” with Evelyn Somers, who has written about his work before, at Bloom. Fancy yourself more weirdness? Head to Weird Fiction Review curated by Jeff VanderMeer, whose Southern Reach trilogy was just released in one volume.
New this week is Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes (reviewed here) along with new story collections from E.L. Doctorow (All the Time in the World) and Jim Shepard (You Think That’s Bad). Also new this week is Kate Atkinson’s latest Jackson Brodie mystery Started Early, Took My Dog and Paul McEuen’s debut mixing “science and suspense” Spiral. Out in paperback is Millions Hall of Famer A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan.
“I started keeping a journal when I was eight, but even before then I was a kid who loved making long lists of everything I could see or remember. Coconut, tricycle, jeepney, air freshener, I would write, for example, and my lists would lengthen and become even more specific as I grew to know the world around me. […] Reading and writing always seemed a part of my life and identity.” For The Rumpus, Swati Khurana interviews Janine Joseph about writing poems as teenagers, writing from experience, and what it meant for Joseph to “come out” as an undocumented immigrant.
“Cursed Child … is an act of overreach that feels mandated not by [J.K.] Rowling’s desire to fill out details but by an entertainment industry intent on reviving and rebooting anything that’s ever made money.” Sophie Gilbert reviews Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for The Atlantic.
Out this week: The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson; Let Me Be Frank With You by Richard Ford; Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millet; Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter; Twilight of the Eastern Gods by Ismail Kadare; A Map of Betrayal by Ha Jin; Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash; and Shark by Will Self. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.