Are you familiar with the concept of the novel doppelgänger? If not you should read this advice column, especially if you're an aspiring author. What are the odds??
"I certainly didn’t want to do something that felt as if I was having a séance. I started with her most personal papers. I wanted her interior voice; I didn’t want the formal writing. I went immediately to her diaries and letters and to the commonplace books. From there I started looking at the marginalia because I was getting a sense of wanting to know what was on her mind while she was writing in her journals." Lynell George conducted a posthumous interview with Octavia Butler, Bomb magazine talked to her about the process. Pair it with this essay on slavery in fiction from our own Edan Lepucki.
"The ideas people project onto me are just that: their projections. And to a certain extent I can choose whether or not to accept them. But these projections also put me in peril, which is why I need to cultivate love. What’s more interesting to me is how I overcome the limiting biases that are projected onto me. If I didn’t discover positive paths, my experiences — and books — would be unbearably devastating. I am always more concerned with the path toward hope and change." Camille Dungy, esteemed poet and essayist in Sun Magazine answering the big questions on the environment, race, religion and Trump.
Out this week: A View of the Empire at Sunset by Caryl Phillips; The Mandela Plot by Kenneth Bonert; and In the Garden of the Fugitives by Ceridwen Dovey. Want to learn more about upcoming titles? Then go read our most recent book preview. Want to help The Millions keep churning out great books coverage? Then sign up to be a member today.
"Puzzled as to why her mother had not figured out “Miriam” on her own — or why, after Capote became famous, she did not say much about her letter and his answer — Ms. Akers sought clues." The New York Times writes about recently discovered letter from Truman Capote to a young reader who misunderstood his first published story. Read our own Michael Bourne on the tragedy of Capote's life.
"That no-way-out is really the difference between boys and girls in working-class culture, because a working-class boy could run, or could when I was growing up." Guernica interviews Dorothy Allison about literature as glory; survival, opportunity, and gender; and working-class heroes vs. heroines. For your reading consideration: Bill Morris's essay on the riches of "white trash" literature.
"Patriarchal domination, even — despite appearances — in the West, is still very entrenched, and each of us, in the most diverse places, in the most varied forms, suffers the humiliation of being a silent victim or a fearful accomplice or a reluctant rebel or even a diligent accuser of victims rather than of the rapists. Paradoxically, I don’t feel that there are great differences between the women of the Neapolitan neighborhood whose story I told and Hollywood actresses or the educated, refined women who work at the highest levels of our socioeconomic system. " In a rare interview, Elena Ferrante discuses the #meToo movement, Naples and her writing process for the Neapolitan novels in a rare interview translated from the original French.
Tom Wolfe, known as much for his personal as his narrative style, died on Monday of this week, reports The New York Times. An author of both critically and commercially acclaimed fiction — The Bonfire of the Vanities — and non-fiction — The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test — Wolfe was a mandarin of the New Journalism style that first became ascendant in the 1960s. Several of his books (including Vanities and The Right Stuff, about the early days of the U.S. space program) also became successful films. We reviewed Wolfe's 16th book, The Kingdom of Speech, in 2016, as well as his 2012 novel Back to Blood, noting that in classic Wolfe-ian form, the latter "is obsessed with cultural abrasion, with the way different classes and races vie for power."
Out this week: The Ensemble by Aja Gabel; Kickflip Boys by Neal Thompson; A Shout in the Ruins by Kevin Powers; Tin Man by Sarah Winman; How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan; and Last Stories by William Trevor. Want to learn more about upcoming titles? Then go read our most recent book preview. Want to help The Millions keep churning out great books coverage? Then sign up to be a member today.