The New Yorker Fiction Issue had a great line-up this year, featuring the likes of Denis Johnson, Jeffrey Euginedes, Gary Shteyngart, and Charles D'Ambrosio. If you want more or if you missed out, check out the writers' real-life summer memories.
Here's a nice piece on Stephen Dixon, from the John Hopkins Magazine. This article, as the excerpt below shows, will either be a spirit boost or buster for writers everywhere:
Dixon has never had a bestseller, never earned a large royalty check. If he gets $3,000 as an advance for a new novel, that counts as a big payday. When Frog was shortlisted for the National Book Award, its hardcover edition had already gone out of print. There were copies on the shelves of stores, but the book's publisher had distributed its entire first press run and had no intention of printing more, award or no award. Dixon wouldn't say no to a prestigious prize or sudden commercial success. But at age 70 he still types every day for what seems the least complicated of reasons: He likes to tell stories, and there is always another one percolating through his mind. Besides 15 novels, he has published more than 500 short stories.
Salon is in its third of a four-part series on Summer Reads. Parts 1 and 2, on thrillers and chick-lit respectively, didn't interest this kitten; however, Part 3 discusses travel memoirs. Anthony Doerr (whose collection of short stories, The Shell Collector, blew me away) is releasing one about his sojourns in Rome as a recent parent to twin boys. Here is a tidbit, from Publishers Weekly:
Acclaimed novelist and short story writer Doerr turns out a well-observed chronicle of his family's year in Rome, when he was a fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Doerr is a precise, lyrical writer who, dividing his book into seasons, captures in equal measures the wonder of the Italian countryside, the mind-boggling history of the Eternal City and the measured joys and trials of parenting twin baby boys. Upon their autumn arrival, it is the boys who most connect Doerr and his wife to their new city: "Grown men in suits stop and crouch over the stroller and croon. Older men in particular. Che carini. Che belli. What cuties. What beauties." In Spring, Doerr captures well the color and emotionof the vigil for the dying Pope John Paul II, providing insight into the man and his death: "More than three miles of artwork hang in the Vatican Museum and the pope could have any of it brought in front of him...Instead, he wants only to hear something read from the Bible in Polish."
I'm not quite ready to embark on The Dud Avocado . I need to plow through some more of Don Quixote. Plus, I foolishly (well, I'm just placating my pocketbook here) purchased 3 non-fiction books ("Buy 2, get 3rd free!") from the evil empire of Barnes & Noble, one of which -- the book on Lincoln's melancholy and depression -- I simply had to crack open.
What is wrong with me? I woke up this morning with a great short story idea, about a woman driving her toddler to daycare when an intruder forces himself into the car and drives them away. I had it all worked out in my head. And I just let...the ball............drop. I have been doing that lately. To me, it is a form of self-denial. But I cannot figure out why, why, why? I know, I know: Just write, just write. This year, writing has been a monumental struggle, more than ever before in my life....