2015 was a remarkable year for short stories
This has been a remarkable year for short story lovers. We’ve seen collections that burnish the reputations of dead authors (Lucia Berlin; Clarice Lispector) and re-introduce acclaimed authors who haven’t published in more than a decade (Joy Williams) as well as debut collections from writers to watch (Mia Alvar; Antonio Ruiz-Camacho), first books of stories by acclaimed novelists (Anthony Marra), and new books by established masters (Adam Johnson; Kelly Link; China Mieville; Edith Pearlman). Here are excerpts from a few ...
Remembering “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”
Mark Twain photographed by AF Bradley
Jim Smiley was the archetype of the betting man. He’d bet on fighting cocks and on racing mares and, haruspicaciously, on which of two birds lolling on a fence would be the first to take flight. He’d bet on anything. He even once bet on whether the wife of a minister would recover from illness, taking the grim but practical view that she would not and laying down a few dollars to back up his hunch.
But that’s not all ...
Mary Gaitskill photographed by Derek Shapton
In five years of teaching creative writing, I had a student complain only once, when I assigned a reading of Mary Gaitskill’s “A Romantic Weekend” without proper warning. “Pornography” was what the student called it in her email to the department chair, who let me off the hook, well aware of Gaitskill and her reputation—both for difficult content, and also for excellence; maybe she upsets you, but if you’re even halfway serious about writing fiction, you need to read her ...
Karen Olsson photographed by Matt Valentine.
For those called to testify before the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions, Iran-Contra was an affair to remember. To Karen Olsson—a teenager at the time—the scandal and resultant investigation all seemed rather nebulous.
“It’s one of those things that lurks on the fringes of your memory, because it happened before I was quite old enough to be aware of it and interpret it in an adult way,” Olsson says. “I was in ninth grade, and I ...
Our preview of books first published overseas
The White Road by Edmund de Waal
The Book of Memory
U.S.: Feb. 2, 2016 | FSG
U.K.: Aug. 20, 2015 | Faber & Faber
Memory is an albino black woman sitting on death row in a Zimbabwe jail, convicted of murdering a white man—her guardian—in the turbulent era following independence. She writes her life story in notebooks given to her by an American journalist who focuses on miscarriages of justice and has taken an interest in her case. At the age of 9, Memory ...
Lisa Kleypas photographed by Danielle Barnum
After more than two years, Lisa Kleypas fans finally have two new titles to sink into—one contemporary, Brown-Eyed Girl, and one historical, Cold-Hearted Rake.
I had a phone chat with Kleypas recently and we discussed romance novels, careers, risks, and reviews. If you’re a fan, you may already know that Kleypas was a Miss Massachusetts; that she started writing a book at summer camp when she was 16; that she sold her first novel just after she graduated from ...
Margaret Atwood photographed by Jean Malek
A county clerk in a heartland state defies an order, backed by the Supreme Court of the United States, to issue marriage licenses to applicants regardless of their sex or gender. She pleads loyalty to a higher judge. Supporters argue that the laws of the deity trump the laws of mere mortals, while several conservative candidates for the presidency of the land declare themselves to be on her side.
It’s against headline-making events like this one, which is by ...
Gregory Maguire photographed by Andy Newman
“I don’t know about you, but I have an extremely vigorous dream life,” says Gregory Maguire. One imagines!—and one is not disappointed to learn that, just prior to our morning phone interview, he dreamt of his dead mother and dead stepmother in conversation with 36th President Lyndon Baines Johnson and Lynda Bird Johnson Robb.
Maguire is an interviewer’s dream: nimble-minded, never mumbles, elucidative, ever-humble bestselling author, Broadway VIP, English and American literature PhD—best-known for his skillfully skewed perspectives ...