Emily Schultz photographed by Brian Joseph Davis
In The Blondes, a novel by Emily Schultz, a contagious disease afflicts only flaxen-haired females. Prior to death, victims of Siphonaptera Human Virus (SHV), popularly known as “Gold Fever” or “California Rabies,” are highly prone to violent attacks.
“ ‘Save it, Burroughs! Her brain’s bleached. She can’t hear you,’ ” one police officer shouts to another at John F. Kennedy International Airport, while subduing a flight attendant. The woman attempted to maul a toddler.
The airport scene ...
The celebrated Western novelist and historian dies at age 75
Ivan Doig photographed by Carol Doig
Ivan Doig, the novelist and historian whose work celebrated the Western landscapes in which he spent most of his life, died this morning at his home in Seattle. He was 75 years old and had been suffering for the last eight years from the effects of multiple myeloma—which did nothing at all to keep him from completing four books, the last of which, a novel called The Last Bus to Wisdom, will be published in August.
I had the ...
Ann Packer photographed by Elena Seibert
On the eve of the publication of Ann Packer’s third novel, The Children’s Crusade, the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author tells me she is anticipating the following question: “What made you want to write the book in 10 sections, from four different first-person narrators and covering five decades?”
Her answer is simple and at the ready.
“I didn’t! I didn’t want to do that!” Packer laughs into the phone from her home in northern California. “It ...
It wasn't a hit for a long time, and then it was
When F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby was published 90 years ago, bowing in on April 10, 1925, it did not take the reading world by storm. Critics were hostile or indifferent, chiding Fitzgerald for vulgarity, triviality, and jealousy over the fortunes of his social betters. Fitzgerald’s friend Edmund Wilson had his doubts, calling the too often drunk Fitzgerald a “sloppy boor” and his book an appropriately sloppy mess. Even Fitzgerald wondered if he should have written his book ...
Deciding the 2014 NBCC Winners
When the members of the National Book Critics Circle board of directors shut ourselves up in a room to choose the winners of our annual awards—better bring snacks because we’re not leaving until we’re finished!—we’re always careful to consider only the books in front of us. We don’t say things like, “This book has already won other awards so it doesn’t need ours,” or “We’ve given too many prizes to books from big presses so it’s time for a ...
T.C. Boyle photographed by Jamieson Fry
Breeze through T.C. Boyle’s epigraphs at your own peril—they’re often the germ of his stories.
“Epigraph and title are really the framework to start nailing the walls onto,” says Boyle, by phone, from home in Santa Barbara, California. It’s one day ahead of the national tour for his 25th book, The Harder They Come, which bears a kickoff quotation from D.H. Lawrence’s Studies in Classic American Literature:
“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and ...
Kirker Butler photographed by Lee Cherry.
As a high schooler, Kirker Butler once choreographed the opening number of a beauty pageant.
“I grew up in a small town in the South, and my mother and father were on the county fair board. My mother was put in charge of the pageant. We still don’t know why,” says Butler, who set the steps to Neil Diamond’s “America.”
When it comes to the perfect person to write a satirical sendup of kiddie pageants ...
Christian Kiefer photographed by Jessica Eger
Christian Kiefer is smart. He has a PhD in American literature and teaches at American River College in Sacramento. His mentors are T.C. Boyle, Richard Ford, Pam Houston and Denis Johnson, who he thanks in the acknowledgements for his second novel, The Animals.
The Animals is so good, it’s hard to be smart about it. It’s got the lyrical language of top-tier literary fiction with the compulsive readability of a blood-pumping crime novel. It makes you think and feel ...