4/27/2011 – Link Roundup

Roxane Gay has been killing it lately. She has a short story over at Night Train right now. Go and read “The Shape of My Mouth” as soon as possible.

Michael Chabon recalls The Phantom Tollbooth for the 50th anniversary edition that is forthcoming from Knopf.

When I was a boy I read, in a biography of Daniel Boone, or of Daniel Beard, that young Dan (whichever of the two it may have been—or maybe it was young George Washington) had so loved some book, had felt his heart and mind inscribed so deeply in its every line, that he had pricked his fingertip with a knife and, using a pen nib and his blood for ink, penned his name on the flyleaf. At once, reading that, I knew two things: 1) I must at once undertake the same procedure and 2) only one, among all the books I adored and treasured, was worthy of such tribute: The Phantom Tollbooth. At that point I had read it at least five or six times.

Growing up, The Phantom Tollbooth was a personal favorite.

Nathan Heller talks about why David Foster Wallace inspires and why he has devoted fans over at Slate.

The answer has less to with the part of Wallace that is best-known—the cerebral trappings and stylistic high jinks—than with a feature of his work that is more subtly distinctive. Increasingly over the course of his career, Wallace chased a humane sensibility on the page, a project that had less to do with arcane intellectual stylings than with his effort to break past them, to write about a social logic that didn’t depend on form or training. Reading the mature DFW means witnessing formal thought being juggled, shattered, and finally reconnected to basic ideas about how to live. In this, he channeled a peculiar hunger in his generation. His ascent coincided with a burst in higher education, leading more young adults than ever to enter the world rehearsed in systematic thought but unsure how to live humanely in a secular and pluralistic age. Wallace, in the books he published and the work he left behind, helped bridge that gap.

Steve Almond writes about the Three Cups of Tea fiasco over at The Rumpus.

My definition of creative non-fiction is simple. It is a radically subjective account of events that objectively took place.

Garth Risk Hallberg talks about the novel over at The Millions.

It was late October, 2008, and Robert Silvers had earned a victory lap. The New York Review of Books, which he’d co-founded with the late Barbara Epstein during the New York printers’ strike of 1963, was about to observe its 45th anniversary. And equally improbably, after the tumultuous reign of Bush fils, the country seemed poised to elect a president aligned with the social-democratic politics for which the New York Review had provided life support. Interviewed by a reporter at a San Francisco restaurant, though, Silvers, 78, sounded less like an eminence grise dining out on past accomplishments than a hungry young editor on the make…or maybe the cat who ate the canary. The end of the conversation found him talking up “‘an ambitious essay’” slated to appear in the Review’s anniversary edition, “‘a daring and original piece by a brilliant mind’”—a “dismantl[ing]” (in the reporter’s paraphrase) of the literary “status quo.” “‘Some people will be slightly shaken,’ Silvers said with delight,” before “grabbing a handful of smoked almonds and making a dash for the door.

Edan Lepucki talks about what it’s like to write in Los Angeles.

I’ve been feeling isolated lately.  In the mornings (if I’m being good), I work on my new book, and, once I’ve been sufficiently humbled by the limits of my own skill and talent, I take my dog for a walk.   On these jaunts, I wave hello to the neighbors and the gardeners, the local barbers and the auto mechanics.  Maybe I’ll stop by the nearby coffee shop, and get something to go.  On every walk, I’m likely to see a raised sprinkler–that little metal head–protruding from the edge of a lawn.  When I see one of these heads, I do like I’ve always done: I tap it down with my foot and I make a wish.

Here is an excerpt from “Love Sentence” by Lynne Tillman:

It was spring, and in the spring a young man’s, a young woman’s, heart turned heedlessly, helplessly, heartlessly, to love. Were those hearts skipping beats? Were eager suitors walking along broad avenues hoping beyond hope that at the next turn the love they had waited for all their lives would notice them and halt midstep or midsentence, dumbstruck, love struck? Were women and men, women and women, men and men, late at night, sitting in dark bars, surrounded by smoky glass mirrors, pledging their minds and bodies?

Do you judge people by the books they read?

That woman reading Suze Orman just got a letter from the IRS, that man reading The Notebook lost a bet with his girlfriend, and that other man reading Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is confusing strategic thinking with being an a**hole. In all of these instances, I sniffed like the pretentious bastard I am. These readers probably didn’t notice me roll my eyes and return to my dreary Haruki Murakami novel about lonely men being lonely, because that’s what lonely men read when they think the reason they’re so lonely is because they’re so-o-o smart.


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