Dan Chaon: “We both know that the cliché of the Midwest is that we are all corn-fed, really nice people, but you read any police blotter in any small town, and you know that’s not true (laughs). My mother was someone who was the first big storyteller in my life, and her fascination was always with morbid or crazy things that happened to people she was related to or people she knew about — you know, somebody having a heart attack and falling into a pig pen and being eaten alive by the pigs.”
Various Jonathan Lethem-related film projects are floating around; most recently, David Cronenberg may direct Lethem’s 1997 novel, As She Climbed Across the Table.
Considering James Hynes‘ stellar new novel, Next, as a retort to Reality Hunger.
The best underappreciated Chicago novel.
How motherhood fed Shirley Jackson‘s fiction.
Do critics need to be tougher? (And does my phrasing the link in the form of a question reflect the urge to be compassionate and nonconfrontational that Jeffrey R. Di Leo derides?)
How John Updike revised. The multimedia glimpse into multiple drafts of the opening of Rabbit at Rest is particularly interesting. (Last year I took a look at how Updike tweaked some of the stories that appeared his final collection, My Father’s Tears.)
A letter Nicholson Baker wrote to Updike in 1985, under the “oddly peaceful emotional umbrella” of one of his stories.
Henry Roth biographer Steven Kellman responds in Bookforum (reg req’d) to Joshua Cohen’s criticism of An American Type in Harper’s.
The Italian “journalist” who invented a host of interviews with Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Gore Vidal, and many others has confessed.
Wendell Berry has pulled his papers from the University of Kentucky to protest the school’s affiliation with the coal industry.
Aimee Bender‘s influences, from Raymond Carver to L. Frank Baum to The Piano.
Blogging Ray Bradbury.
Susan Straight on her surprise at how eagerly her students took to Winesburg, Ohio. (Straight also puts in a good word for Alex Espinoza‘s fine 2007 novel, Still Water Saints.) (via)
Thanks to “bungling bureaucrats in Washington, DC,” Annie Proulx couldn’t give a reading in Moscow.
If you’re in Germany after Thanksgiving, there’s a sizable conference on the work of Richard Powers going on. (via)
“[Philip] Roth assumed the persona of my friend’s whiny Jewish mother while masturbating my friend’s black umbrella. In a kvetchy falsetto, Roth scolded my friend for being a bad son.”