In our afternoon reading: thoughts on new novels by Isle McElroy and Christine Lai, surreal fiction recommendations, and more.
In our weekend reading: reviews of books by Steven Millhauser and Bora Chung, fiction from Maxim Loskutoff, and more.
In our morning reading: thoughts on Jimin Han’s new book, an interview with Steven Millhauser, and more.
Morning Bites: Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Charlie Kaufman’s Novel, Steven Millhauser, Carlos Fonseca Interviewed, and More
In our morning reading: a conversation with Rachel Eliza Griffiths, a guide to the books of Steven Millhauser, and more.
In his debut novel, Nine Shiny Objects, Brian Castleberry peels back the veneer of a rosy, postwar America, exposing the messy inner workings beneath. The novel is divided into nine hefty sections, each with a different protagonist whose life intersects in one way or another with a mysterious UFO cult. The book begins in 1947 with Oliver Danville, a small-time Chicagoan hustler, who, after witnessing a murder and reading about a strange UFO sighting, feels compelled to head west to investigate. Danville eventually establishes a group called “the Seekers,” and what follows is one chance encounter after another, as the story wends from coast to coast, spanning four decades, and all the while explores the limits of utopian dreams and the reactionary forces poised to strike them down. A whole world populates this richly woven novel: farmers, rock stars, city folks and suburbanites, a poet, a salesman, a conspiracy radio talk show host, and more. This is an American novel with heavy American themes, and at the same time, Castleberry reveals the humor in the absurd. In an email exchange, the author discussed with me some of these themes and how the book came to exist.
Say you’re a fiction writer and you’d like to allude to the communications technologies of the present moment. There are plenty of ways you can do this, from coming up with your own lightly-altered versions of real-world services to embracing an accurate picture of your smartphone’s suite of apps circa the moment you’re putting words on paper. The difficulty with the latter, though, is that the ups and downs of the tech world don’t always match up with the time it takes to get a book published; the way that Vine went from buzzed-about to deprecated in a relatively short period of time illustrates just how difficult of a juggling act this can be.
Afternoon Bites: Peter Schjeldahl on Norman Rockwell, Steven Millhauser Fiction, New Yvette, Fantagraphics Kickstarter, and More
Talking Norman Rockwell at The New Yorker, fiction from Steven Millhauser, a new album from Tim Kinsella, Fantagraphics holds a fundraiser, and more.
Indexing: Poets’ Novels, Listening to Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Reading D.T. Max, Stuart Nadler and More
A roundup of things consumed by our contributors.