At the Chicago Review of Books, Lucy Ellmann discusses her new book, Things Are Against Us, a nonfiction collection that offers many of the surprises and insights from her fiction. “My essays aren’t exercises in fact-finding, I’m glad to say,” Ellmann explains. “They’re merely vehicles for the expression of opinion. Fiction allows me to get my opinions across too, but sometimes it’s fun to just fly off the handle. My essays are also full of good advice, since the only real self-help is self-hatred, and that I can teach. Otherwise, the job is the same as in fiction: to write things the way they ought to be written.”
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).
“When I have an idea that will later, sadly, become a story or a poem, I have a sensation of receiving something. But I do not know if that “something” is given to me by something or someone or if it bursts out on its own.” An excerpt from Borges‘s conversations with the Argentinian poet and essayist Osvaldo Ferrari on writing, memory, and God is now available on The New York Review of Books blog.
Philip Roth may have retired, but that doesn’t mean he’s done giving interviews. The author recently sat down with the editor of a Swedish newspaper, who talked with him about misogyny, Sabbath’s Theater and the need for “obstinacy” in a writer. (Related: our own Hannah Gersen reviewed Roth Unbound.) (h/t The Paris Review)