At the Rumpus, Jo Hamya shares the writing process behind her debut novel, Three Rooms, and how she reluctantly deals with reader assumptions about her narrator as a stand-in for herself. “A lot of people think it’s autofiction, and that I’m the narrator,” Hamya says. “The hardest thing about writing the book was that at regular intervals I’d stop and be like, what if people think this is me? […] As I was writing, I kept thinking about how I don’t like this narrator at all. I understand why people feel sympathy for her, but she’s not my idea of a great person—she’s necessarily ineffectual and vague, because otherwise the book would wrap up neatly with her getting her life together. She’s a composite of the worst tweets I could find, and as I was putting her into various situations or environments that I’d been in my life, and having her act differently, I kept thinking how it would be awful if someone thought this was me, but it does seem to be happening [laughs]. I suppose that’s unavoidable. You can’t control what your readers think. I’ll just have to deal with it.”
“Jeopardy!” champion Ken Jennings charts “the wide, weird world of geography” in his latest book Maphead. NPR investigates his process in a “Fresh Air” interview. Scribner Books provides a small sample as well. While discussing the particulars of America’s “Road Geeks,” Jennings makes it clear to this listener that he’d probably be interested in Cynthia Enloe and Joni Seager’s The Real State of America Atlas, which was reviewed by our own Bill Morris last July.
“The way (Yeats) puts down a man’s head & a woman’s head side by side, or face to face, is terrifying, two irreducible singlenesses & the impassable immensity between.” The Paris Review has published a brief, fascinating letter written by Samuel Beckett to his aunt Cissie Sinclair containing an original poem and some positive criticism of the painter Jack B. Yeats. Top it off with this essay by Elizabeth Winkler about language, style, and translation–and how any of that might help to make sense of Beckett’s convoluted legacy.
As Maxwell’s prepares for its last couple days of existence, New York Magazine brought together the place’s original founder, it’s current co-owner, and a huge number of musicians to provide an oral history of Hoboken’s best concert venue. You might recall my piece from last month on the institution’s demise.
David Meltzer interviewed renowned Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti for the Poetry Foundation. At 93 years of age, Ferlinghetti still contends that “the real popular poets of America” are not the people writing verse for poetry collections, but rather the folk musicians and folksingers. “A lot of folksingers’ poems are greater than the printed poems!” Ferlinghetti explains. Evidently the American Academy of Arts and Letters agrees: Bob Dylan recently became the first rock musician ever inducted into its ranks.