Field Reports, East, West, and Midwest

Mark Sarvas caught Marilynne Robinson discussing her new novel, Home, at the Los Angeles Public Library last night. My favorite of her comments that evening: “I don’t like plot very much—please contain your surprise. … It becomes a big machine that carries everything after it.” Sarvas also shot a brief video of Robinson reading from Home:

Yesterday New York University hosted a memorial for David Foster Wallace attended by fellow writers, publishers, editors, and agents, including Don DeLillo, Jonathan Franzen, and George Saunders. Sarah Weinman has a thoughtful summary of the event in which she expresses some reasonable concern about the whole thing being overdone. “Every time letters were mentioned or read from, I projected to the inevitable book containing DFW’s edited correspondence,” she writes. “There are public memorials slated for Vancouver, Arizona and probably many other places. But how much is too much? When does group memorial stop being genuine and start being disingenuous?”

On a different note: My current object of book lust is University of Chicago Press’ forthcoming The Chicagoan, a lengthy, extended tribute to a short-lived Jazz Age cultural magazine of the same name. The PDF sampler of some of the magazine’s pages floored me—the magazine’s model is clearly the New Yorker, but there’s plenty of evidence that its makers knew they were in a working-class town, even if the target audience was the folks in charge. (H/T Pete Lit)

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