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A.O. Scott on Joy Williams



Florida comes up a lot in Williams’s work (she has written a nonfiction book about Key West). It’s a landscape of vacation homes and cut-rate amusements with a complicated gravity that expels some characters, attracts others and causes still others to sink into fragrant, hazy torpor.

But she’s equally at home in — she has in fact lived in — Arizona and Maine. She’s not really a Western or a New England writer, though. Or maybe she is, insofar as the flat, dry heat of the desert affects the restless young women in “The Quick and the Dead” as much as the humidity of Florida afflicts the listless young women in “State of Grace” and “Breaking and Entering,” and the deep, lonesome dark of a Maine winter shadows the mother-and-child odyssey in the short story “Escapes.” Her sense of place is acute, but her places aren’t steeped in history or tradition. People pass through or stop in them without always understanding or caring where they are. “It was one of those rugged American places,” a minor character in “The Quick and the Dead” muses, recalling his hometown in Washington State, “a remote, sad-ass, but plucky downwind town whose citizens were flawed and brave. He would never go back there, of course.”

You can read the whole thing here.

Rui Zink in Ninth Letter



installation_of_fear2

The American premier of Portuguese guest writer Rui Zink’s novel The Installation of Fear is available to read at Ninth Letter, here.

Out now: Lyrics for Rock Stars by Heather Sappenfield



just the front cover of Lyrics for Rock Stars

Heather Sappenfield’s short story collection Lyrics for Rock Stars, winner of the V Press LC Compilation Book Prize, is out today – congratulations, Heather!

In Lyrics for Rock Stars, Heather Mateus Sappenfield has drawn a map of the Colorado mountains and written a legend that describes the inner workings of its people’s hearts.
—Camille T. Dungy

Stepping into the stories in Lyrics for Rock Stars is like stepping into lives you already know, people you’ve lived with, or if you don’t know them already, you’ll wish you did. Writing about the inhabitants of landscapes she knows by heart, Sappenfield makes her people come alive on the page and you’ll turn each of those pages hoping for them, pulling for them, realizing, slowly, that their lives are our own.
—Pete Fromm

 

“I can’t just be hopeful for the sake of it” – Jenny Offill on Weather



I can’t just be hopeful for the sake of it. I find that I have to figure out actions that feel like they create a less precarious life for the future. So for me that has meant that I wrote this novel, which I was never intending to write about the climate when I first began it. And also that — I’m a pretty introverted person, as most writers are — but I’ve pushed myself a little bit to do more activism. That, for me, has been an antidote to the dread and a hopeful thing.

Jenny Offill talks about her novel Weather with NPR’s A Word on Words, here.

Out now: Wiving by Caitlin Myer



Wiving is a wonder, a hypnotic account of the dangers of desire–specifically female desire–when it dares to run counter to all the barriers that were created to keep such passions in their place. Myer’s self-examination and honesty go way past brave and into a dizzying kind of free-fall confession. When I finished this, I felt heart-broken to know what finally ‘shook her free.’ Highly recommended.”–Glen David Gold, author of Carter Beats the Devil and I Will Be Complete

Alum Caitlin Myer’s memoir Wiving: A Memoir of Loving Then Leaving the Partiarchy is out now! Buy it from our friends at Point Reyes Books, or read a review in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Everything’s Fine” by Bea Chang



2. Two months ago, Broad Street Magazine invited past contributors to add to its pandemic blog. I dismissed the invitation almost right away; I am a slow, painfully meticulous writer. An example: I am currently working on an essay about 9/11. So I figured that by the time I was “done” with my coronavirus ramblings, some semblance of normalcy would have resumed.

3. Yet, here we are.

Thirty-one paragraphs about quarantine and sports by Bea Chang, at Broad Street.

Maaza Mengiste this Sunday at Edinburgh International Book Festival



If you’re online this Sunday, August 16, you can catch Maaza Mengiste in conversation with John Williams, Douglas Stuart, and Paul Mendez for an Edinburgh International Book Festival event sponsored by The New York Times Book Review. They’ll be “coming together to discuss their work, and how they’re trying to make sense of the mess we’re in. They talk about what they’re reading and recommending, from books for comfort to works that have made them change their minds.” The event is free, starting at 12:30 PM EST (5:30 PM BST) and you can find out more about it here.

Shayla Lawson in The Cut



You are here because you are cool. You have arrived. You’ve finally landed a career in some transparent millennial advertising agency with the pinball machine and the snacks and the sliding-glass office spaces. After three to six interviews and a probation period that amounted to an extended six-month half-paid internship — so you could shadow the girl whose new position comes with a pay bump meaning she will earn four times more than you — you have made it: a job with health care and vision and dental and sick pay and the opportunity to quit at least two of your four to six side jobs.

If you haven’t seen it yet, head over to The Cut for an excerpt from Shayla Lawson’s new book This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope.