by The Book Report
This week we decided to play Marry, Blog, Kill, the literary party game sweeping the nation.1
by Claire Cameron
Many Latin American immigrants could tell us stories if we took the time to listen to them. The trouble is, if we did, and we really took these stories in, it would be much harder to rationalize the billions of dollars spent “securing the border” against a conveniently faceless menace.0
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Mark O'Connell looks at Tommy Wiseau’s "The Room". the "Face-Palm Fresco Affair" and explores the secrets of viral fame.Buy for $1.99
“I didn’t really understand what reading was for. If I wanted a story, the thing to do was to get my grandmother to read it to me. Then listening to her voice, her story-reading voice which always sounded a little incredulous, marvelling, yet full of faith, bravely insistent, and watching her face, its meaningful and utterly familiar expressions—lifted eyebrows, ominously sinking chin, brisk little nods of agreement when, as sometimes happened, a character said something sensible—then I would feel the story grow into life and exist by itself, so that it hardly seemed to me that she was reading it out of a book at all; it was something she had created herself, out of thin air… But one summer I had the whooping-cough, and afterwards I could not go swimming or jump off the beams in the barn or boss my little brother, because by that time he had the whooping-cough himself. My grandmother was off somewhere, visiting other cousins. So I swung on my swing until I got dizzy, and then for no reason in particular I took the Child’s History out of the bookcase in the front room, and sat down on the floor and started to read.” Alice Munro writes about A Child’s History of England, the first book she ever read.
This week in book-related infographics, round 2: Lapham’s Quarterly takes a look at the day jobs of famous authors, among them T.S. Eliot, who was responsible for processing reports on German debt, and Charlotte Bronte, who had laundry fees deducted from her pay. Pair with our own Emily St. John Mandel‘s essay on “Working the Double Shift” and “all the strangely varied occupations that a person accumulates when the primary objective is not to establish a career, per se, but just to pay the rent while they’re working on a novel.”
“How is it possible that a smallish army of discerning readers agree that Jim Harrison is one of the few truly great living American writers, yet he has not gotten the wider audience—or the widespread praise—he so plainly deserves?” Our own Bill Morris has some theories.
“It’s the marriage of one kind of darkness to another… the black storm cloud of Neel’s pen is well suited to Dostoyevsky’s questions of God, reason, and doubt.” On Alice Neel‘s illustrations for The Brothers Karamazov, from The Paris Review. Pair with our own Kevin Hartnett’s much lighter take on the novel, “Reading The Brothers Karamazov: Even a Toddler Knows a Funny Name When He Hears One.”
This week in book-related infographics: “A Plotting of Fiction Genres” from Electric Lit.
“‘So your idea is to drive across America and write about it without talking to a single American?’ ‘Yes.'” Karl Ove Knausgaard travels North America as “a tongue-in-cheek Tocqueville” for the New York Times Magazine. Pair with his piece for The Millions, “The View from My Window is a Constant Reminder,” and with Jonathan Callahan‘s reading of Knausgaard’s My Struggle.
“Be patient – even with chaos.” Advice for the upcoming writer from Lydia Davis.
Over the past fifteen years, Mohsin Hamid has moved from New York, to London, and to Lahore, Pakistan, with stints in Italy and Greece. His new book, which came out yesterday, is a series of essays about his odyssey across the world, chronicling his observations and experiences that led him to move. At Bookforum, a review by Jake Lamar.
Recommended Reading: Willy Blackmore talking to Matthew J.X. Malady about the time he tried to be a literary agent.
Edith Pearlman has been writing stories for a long time, but it’s only recently that she’s received widespread attention for them, as evidenced by this New Yorker piece on the author by James Wood. In it, Wood writes about the ways in which Pearlman is “a fabulist in realist’s clothing,” among other things. Pair with: Josh Cook on Pearlman’s book Honeydew.
Chekhov never published an autobiography, but he did once write a letter in which, in Chekhovian fashion, he summed up his life in a paragraph. At The Paris Review Daily, you can read the Constance Garnett translation of this letter in full. You could also check out Brendan Mathews on reading Chekhov for self-improvement.
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Read More The Millions Top 10 December 2014
The Novel: A Biography Michael Schmidt
Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
The Bone Clocks David Mitchell
Reading Like a Writer Francine Prose
My Brilliant Friend Elena Ferrante
The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan
The Strange Library Haruki Murakami
All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Karen Joy Fowler
Dept. of Speculation Jenny Offill