“I suddenly began to realize that everybody in America is a natural born thief,” wrote Jack Kerouac, who, alongside St. Augustine and Mark Twain, features in Rachel Shteir’s cultural history of shoplifting.
If you’ve read of my love for Friday Night Lights, you might remember I grew up rooting for the Cowboys. But you did you know there’s another, better, more authentic way to make nachos than the soggy pile-up we’re all used to getting at bars after too many beers at 2 o’clock in the morning?
All mysteries (and recipes) revealed in “Football and Nachos, the Texan Way,” at The Awl today.
Image courtesy of Homesick Texan, who’s on top of your Friday Night Lights dinner needs too.
At the Awl, Kate Christensen and I discuss her latest novel, The Astral, and many other things, including cheating hearts, failed marriages, bad therapy, male muses, inner dicks, and (briefly) her next book, Gin on the Lanai.
“I write about people wrestling with various internal conflicts in ways that ripple outwards and cause more external conflicts,” she says. “Repressed, obedient, ‘good-citizen’ characters interest me very little because there’s little possibility for change in them. I’m a very old-fashioned writer. Change is what I’m after… Flux is exciting; struggle and discord and trouble fascinate me.”
“All autobiographies are, in part, lies,” says Touré, who sees Manning Marable’s “more complete and unvarnished” new Malcolm X biography as a worthy supplement to The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
“There is a particular sort of toughness of mind to be found in American women writers — Flannery O’Connor and Dawn Powell had it — and its finest living avatar is now clearly Paula Fox.” — Gerald Howard, 2001
“I used to want to be like June Miller when I was a teenager, because she sounded so beautiful and so seductive and so dangerous… I wanted to be like someone who never wrote anything.”
A Disney trip with kids meets lots of furtive weed smoking in John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Rough Guide to Disney World. “It was a double hallucination,” he says. “You were hallucinating inside of Walter Disney’s hallucination. That’s what he wanted.” Already an official #longreads pick, I know, but: it’s so, so good and only gets better as it goes.
I’ve also been revisiting Eudora Welty’s fiction in preparation for a Granta event [held at the New School last night]. “Why I Live at the P.O.” and “Petrified Man” are two of her most beloved stories, and with good reason: they’re funny and relentless and so accurately and minutely observed. Returning to them, I realized what an influence she must have had on Dorothy Allison (whose Bastard Out of Carolina, a #longlongread, I also recommend). Then I confirmed it. “I was seduced by Eudora Welty,” Allison wrote in 2005, though “I had every reason to distrust her, as I had distrusted Faulkner—both of them products of the middle-class South I disdained.”
To round out this unexpectedly southern round-up, for anyone who missed it last week, I recommend my friend Anna Holmes’ essay on the female Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights movement. One, a factory worker and mother of two traveling after a miscarriage, refused to give up her seat to a white couple and kicked a deputy in the groin when he tried to make her.
I spend so little time around here these days, I forgot to mention my inclusion in Paper Magazine’s Lit It Crowd. I love the photo; all my companions — Thessaly LaForce, Sadie Stein, Emma Straub, and Hamish Robertson — look dead sexy (which they are), while I’m off to the side, hands folded, gazing skyward and seemingly clucking like a delighted schoolmarm/auntie.
It’s a group, Lorin Stein said, “lousy with Parisians”: Thessaly and Sadie are editors and writers at The Paris Review Daily, and Emma and I are contributors. News of Thessaly’s upcoming departure for the Iowa Writers Workshop and that The New Yorker’s Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn will be taking over prompted The New York Observer’s Kat Stoeffel to note the Paper feature, in “Les Filles du Blog,” and to observe that “Although many intellectual and literary magazines have come under scrutiny lately for a lack of female bylines,” The Daily and the New Yorker’s Book Bench have no shortage of them.
Image of crowd assembled at Cinderella’s castle at night is by the New York Times’ Joachim Ladefoged.
My friend Kate Christensen, whose work I knew and loved before I knew and loved her, closes out the second season of Girls Write Now’s Chapters with a reading from her new novel, The Astral, possibly my favorite of her books so far.
I invited her to read because her work is funny, candid, and uncannily perceptive, both vulnerable and cutting at once, but also because I like to emphasize to the girls in our program — who will also be reading — that women can write about anything they want, including, in this case, the inner lives of middle-aged men. I’ll be interviewing her for The Awl, and meanwhile you can read Ron Charles’ praise in The Washington Post, Edan Lepucki’s Q&A, and Christensen’s Elle essay “Take It Like a Man.”
Join us Friday, June 17, at 6 p.m. at the historic John Street Church (no affiliation).
On Friday, June 10, I’ll be discussing the late, great Eudora Welty at Granta’s Truly Yours, Eudora Welty: An Evening on Writing and Influence with editor Patrick Ryan and writer Sheri Holman. Rhonda Keyser will read the job application letter Welty sent to the New Yorker as a young woman, in 1933.
“Gentlemen,” it begins, “I suppose you’d be more interested in even a slight-o’-hand trick than you’d be in an application for a position with your magazine, but as usual you can’t have the thing you want most.”
Among other things, we’ll be talking about the wonderful What There Is to Say We Have Said, a collection of Welty’s correspondence with William Maxwell. I first learned of Eudora Welty in a class with Harry Crews, and later read her stories and then her novels. A few years ago I discovered that one of her books, Delta Wedding, is set at a Mississippi plantation that my great-grandfather (later) ran.
See also Lorrie Moore on Welty and “the beautiful deformities of invention”; the (possible) first mention of tire planters in literature; and Eudora Welty audio.