At BOMB Magazine, Patricia Engel speaks to fellow author Ingrid Rojas Contreras about her latest novel, Infinite Country, and how storytelling was instilled within her from an early age. ” I was bred on narratives,” Engel says, “and so my mind unconsciously assembles lived experience into story, searching for meaning, symbols, working out character psychologies and trails of cause and effect. Storytelling has allowed me to mine and map my own life, and also given me an outlet with which to understand human chaos. I stay with writing because it’s endlessly nourishing, and I also see it as an offering to those who came before me and those who will come after.”
“Their staff is always sharp, and they seem to cover politics more robustly now. But through the 1960s there were so many political trends they ignored, pretending to be focused on craft and art for art’s sake.” An interview with Joel Whitney about his forthcoming book Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers, which tells the story of how the intelligence agency helped found The Paris Review. With this backstory in mind, you may read the journal’s author interviews in an entirely new way.
“Any reasonably skilled novelist can evoke on the page the texture of memory, drawing the reader into the half-remembered, the blurred edges, the nervous nostalgia, the meandering associations across time and geography. In contrast, flashbacks on screen tend always to be clumsy beasts, announcing their arrival with unwanted fanfare and knocked-over furniture. Why is this?” Kazuo Ishiguro on film, and other novelists’ second-favorite art forms.
It’s fitting in a weird sort of way that this article, which illustrates the unravelling of Truman Capote’s career, has quotes from two characters named Slim Keith and Babe Paley. Back in 1988, Gerald Clarke covered the story from a slightly different angle.
The huge, McSweeney’s-published, John Sayles novel A Moment in the Sun has been getting great reviews. It’s now out. Also new this week is China Mieville’s Embassytown, reviewed here today; Paul Theroux’s exploration of the genre of travel writing, The Tao of Travel; prizewinning Nigerian author Helon Habila’s new novel Oil on Water; and A Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman, the complete stories of Margaret Drabble, recently written up by Joyce Carol Oates in the New Yorker. New in paperback are a pair of Millions Hall of Famers, Emma Donoghue’s Room and Justin Cronin’s The Passage.
Need some more poetry in your life? Catch up on the year’s best collections. At Page-Turner, Dan Chiasson chooses nine books he predicts will be read in a hundred years, including Corridor by Saskia Hamilton and Go Giants by Nick Laird. FYI, I wrote a Curiosity about one of Chiasson’s picks.