At Electric Literature, Lily King speaks to Amy Reardon about her new story collection, Five Tuesdays in Winter, which she considers a rebellion against our dark times. “A number of people have said, ‘You’re not afraid of a happy ending,'” King says, “and I’ve been thinking a lot about that, and why that is true. It’s funny, everybody kind of sees what they want to see. I think even in stories that don’t have cleanly, purely happy endings, I am in the business of hope. I do believe in hope, and I do believe in change, and I do believe that we’re better than we think we are, and we’re better than this time we’re in. We are. I just… I hope we can get there before the world ends.”
Anwen Crawford reflects on newly published letters from Sylvia Plath; “The belief among many of Plath’s devotees seems to be that if we can get clear of other people’s fingerprints on her texts, allowing Plath to ‘fully narrate her own autobiography,’ as the editors here describe it, we will at last solve the riddle of her. The extremities of her poetry will balance against the circumstances of her life; the latter will equal the former. But her griefs were ordinary; it is what she did with them that wasn’t. Plath turned her common sorrows—dead father, mental illness, cheating husband—into something like an origin story for pain itself, as if her own pain preceded the world.” In the New Yorker
Don’t let social anxiety trap you in your hotel room at AWP. At Tin House, Courtney Maum gives advice for how to make and keep your writer friends in an essay aptly titled, “How Not to Hate Your Friends.” Her first wise tip: “Only be friends with people you actually like.” Pair with: Our dispatch from AWP 2013 to know what you’re in for.
If you’re not already a fan of Will Self, his new book, Shark, may not be the best place to start. As Walker Rutter-Bowman points out, the book dispatches with many of the conventions of modern writing, including line breaks, paragraphs and dialogue tags. But it’s still an effort worthy of its author, he writes: “Here is a hunk of modernism that poignantly, beautifully, and, it seems, genuinely renders mental states of sanity and insanity while smudging the gradations in between.”