The two share lots of history, not least of all their debt to the muck-raking Upton Sinclair novel The Jungle.(1)
Jennifer Miller, with her debut novel 'Gadfly,' adds the latest title to the prep-school novel genre, and draws on her own life to do so
“I think, in general, fiction is a lot harder for me than non-fiction,” Miller observed. “Because with non-fiction, you have all the pieces, and you just have to figure out how to put them together, whereas with fiction, you have to create the pieces of the puzzle out of nothing.” But, she said, ultimately, “I don’t think I could be a fiction writer if I wasn’t also a journalist.”
"I'm writing about the problem of women writing," she admitted. The "core problem," as Bechdel called it, being the conflict between motherhood and artistic ambition. "I don't mean to oversimplify things," she said, "because I know that many women have creative lives and raise children. But how many Leonard Woolfs are there? Not many."
Jennifer Egan talks about her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, dedications, and getting inspired in the shower
The book Egan is referring to, of course, is her 2011 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Visit From The Goon Squad. Because no prize was given for fiction this year, it looks like Egan will be getting another victory lap. It’s a book that’s often called experimental and genre-defying, perhaps because Egan never intended to call it a novel. “I’m still reluctant to use the word novel to talk about the book,” Egan told Weisberg. “But when the hardback didn’t sell for four months, the publisher informed me we were going to call it a novel when it came out in paperback. And that it wasn’t a question, it was a fact.”
Sound, T.M. Wolf’s debut novel, out this week from Faber & Faber, takes a formally inventive approach to evoking those spaces and stutters and ums and ers and likes that form the rhythms of everyday conversation. He sets the dialogue on the page as though it's musical notation. It’s a bold choice on Wolf’s part, and one that fits in neatly with his overall style, a densely written prose that creates an immersive sense of place. In the midst of all of this is a comparably conventional plot—a mid-twenties coming-of-age narrative laced with some traces of low-level criminal activity at the margins—but the stylistic risks that Wolf takes and his ability to create a vibrant sense of place more than compensate for the moments where the novel's central action feels mundane.
Junot Díaz on writing about 11 Dominicans, getting 'lunch money' from Miramax, and the generosity of his readers
A student asked about an Oscar Wao film. Back in 2007, Miramax bought the rights to it, but never made the film.
“You’ve gotta remember it’s about Dominicans in New Jersey so they paid like $500 for it,” he said to laughs. “No, I’m being honest. The shit wasn’t about werewolves, you know? Literally they paid, like, they paid me lunch money.
The Passage of Power, the fourth volume in Robert A. Caro’s epic “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” comes out on Monday, with a title that refers to the book’s two halves—the passage of power from Lyndon Johnson as he is exiled to the vice presidency, and the passage of power to Johnson after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
It is also the biography of a man in passage. Each of Caro’s previous works contain a strong sense of place: New York (The Power Broker) Texas (The Path to Power and Means of Ascent) and Washington (Master of the Senate). The Passage of Power has no such foothold. It is six hundred pages of transition, a book en route.
One may debate Lillian Hellman's merits as a playwright and prose writer, or question whether her refusal to name names when she was called in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee served anything other than her own ego, but in reading Alice Kessler-Harris's book, A Difficult Woman, one gets the sense that Hellman's most lasting and undebatable achievement might have been willing herself into a resolutely unconventional and full life that was not predicated on her being a wife or a mother.
In Rosecrans Baldwin's new memoir, reality gets in the way of trying to live the expat dream in the City of Light
Paris, Rosecrans Baldwin, author of the new memoir Paris I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down, said, changes at a different—slower—pace than New York. “In New York City, one of the defining characteristics is it's being torn down and rebuilt.” Paris, on the other hand, is the world’s number-one tourist destination whose culture and economy is tied to the city’s preservation. “I am being grossly stereotypical, but [the French] are dedicated to holding onto the image of themselves, this idea of French greatness. The trouble with preserving yourself is that it's a deadening thing to do. Paris is full of plenty of exciting young people and a huge immigrant population, but downtown, the Disneyland of western civilization, doesn't necessarily reflect that.”
Martin Amis asks 'what could be more agreeable' than today's memorial for a man of many disagreements, Christopher Hitchens
"He would say it while he, I and others settled down for 16 or 17 hours for food, drink, tobacco, conversation," said Amis. "And I just want to ask, who could be more agreeable than Hitch."(1)
Promoting his new book 'How to Sharpen Pencils,' David Rees gives his audience a clinic in the lost art
Rees, the man behind the Get Your War On anti-Bush political cartoon strip, parlayed his skills with the humble pencil into a mail-order manual-pencil-sharpening business, complete with a spiffy, new-fangled web portal. For $15 a pop, Rees sharpens your pencil and mails it back “with a signed and dated certificate authenticating that it is now a dangerous object.” Also in the mail package: bagged, sealed, and labeled shavings.
With the recent charging of George Zimmerman for the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin plastered across national headlines, personal responsibility and justice are top-of-mind.
It may be just these issues that drew several hundred New Yorkers through the Italianate brownstone arches of The Cooper Union Wednesday evening for a lecture by Dr. Michael Gazzaniga: Who’s In Charge? Free Will and the Science of the Brain.
In an art book about 'Garbage Pail Kids,' the gross side of the '80s returns (with Art Spiegelman cameo)
As with Mad, what jumps out to an adult reared on Garbage Pail Kids is how many Easter eggs Pound, Spiegelman, and their cohort hid in the pieces. “Boozin’ Bruce” (No. 9A), succinctly parodies the persona of then-ascendant TV star Bruce Willis. “Mean Gene” (41A), with his Mohawk, studded bracelets, spiked boots, tied-up stick of lit dynamite, AK-47, and requisite shades, lampoons the Reagan-era one-man-army archetype equally effectively.
A biologist who spent a year studying a square meter of forest puts a new spin on 'exploration' at The Explorers Club
David Haskell was reading and signing from his new book, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature, about his close—very close—examination of one patch of forest in particular. If William Blake wrote of his desire “To see a world in a grain of sand/ And a heaven in a wildflower,” Haskell said, he felt as though he could see the entire planet’s delicate network of flora and fauna in one square meter of old-growth forest in Tennessee. Haskell is an explorer who looks in rather than out, but what he found in a year observing that square meter reveals just how ripe the world still is for exploration if we just know where, and how, to look.
Prostitutes were at one point working out of numbers 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16 Delancey Street. The sale of alcohol was outlawed on Sundays, yet nearly every bar or saloon had side and rear entrances. Casinos catered to both low- and high-end customers. And the police profited from nearly all of this illicit business. Big Bill Devery, when appointed captain of the notorious Eleventh Precinct on today’s Lower East Side, charged madams a $500 “initiation fee” and $50 in monthly protection money.(1)