Posts Tagged ‘novels’
January 16, 2013 | by Jessica Gross
In October, Marie-Helene Bertino published her debut collection of short stories, Safe as Houses. Her writing often involves fantastical elements—an embodied idea of an ex-boyfriend, an alien who faxes observations about human beings to her home planet, a woman who brings Bob Dylan home for Thanksgiving dinner—that advance painful story lines. Her language is spare, direct, and hilarious, which makes the characters’ losses that much more deeply felt. Bertino is now at work on a novel centering on a jazz club in Philadelphia called the Cat’s Pajamas.
We spoke for two hours in a Brooklyn coffee shop, which was flooded with girls on their lunch break from school.
Reading Safe as Houses, I was struck by the number of characters who aren’t really seen by others. By the last few stories, the characters start to become more visible. Does that theme ring true to you?
I would totally agree with that, though I was not conscious of it. I was aware that a lot of characters were on the outskirts of something—of their towns, their groups of friends, their families, their societies. And at the risk of sounding cliché, I think that’s a metaphor for being a writer. I mean literally and figuratively—you have to stand on the outside to watch a group of people and then be able to write about them, but in practice, it’s also a solitary art, as they say. And I think that those characters definitely are a reflection of that kind of observer quality in me.
November 20, 2012 | by Sadie Stein
April 8, 2011 | by Thessaly La Force
At every magazine or publishing house, there’s always an editor or two with a knack for titles. But even so, rarely does one come in a flash of divine inspiration. There are iterations and themes and the same words written over and over. Here is a glimpse of what James Salter’s process was like with his novel Light Years (a book both Jhumpa Lahiri and Porochista Khakpour wrote about this week). Salter seems so close at points, circling back to light and years, sometimes on the same page but not always the same line, ranking his favorites and weighing the opinions of others.
September 3, 2010 | by Lorin Stein
Any reading material for a pathologically shy 33-year-old woman? Who misses sex and fucking and making love and all that? Who even misses blowjobs. Who hasn't gone out with a man in ages? How do people even talk to each other anymore? I've forgotten. —November Whisky
Gosh, poor you. Shyness can be so hard. The first book I would read, if I wanted to reconstruct the language of sex and romance, is Mary Gaitskill's novel Veronica. Or really any of her books. You always get the feeling (at least I do) that Gaitskill is asking herself a question very much like yours. Asking and answering. For similar reasons you might also try Elizabeth Bowen, for example The Heat of the Day. Neither book is cheerful, exactly, but I think they might speak to your condition. Take heart!