The correct answer to this week’s quiz is number 3) because sales rose 8% compared to 2019 book sales. That’s the “good news,” as people were generally stuck at home while the pandemic raged. The bad news, if you’re a bookstore owner or employee, is that bookstore sales were down 23% versus 2019 given that they were either shuttered or often had limited operations. The bigger picture “bad news” for the book industry is that the percentage of people who read a book on a typical day has declined from 26% to 19% from 2003 to 2017. In comparison, TV / streamed viewing is an activity consuming 10x more of people’s time than cracking open a book. The fear that books may become less relevant in a world driven by TV et cetera was, Joanna Scott says, one of the underlying concerns motivating her latest book, a collection of short stories about the often blurry line between fact, fiction, and the fantasies that play in our heads.
Joanna Scott is the author of 12 books, including Arroganceand Various Antidotes, both PEN-Faulkner finalists, and The Manikin, a finalize for the Pulitzer Prize. Her awards include a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She teaches at the University of Rochester.
Nelson Johnson is a retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge and the author of four previous books including Boardwalk Empire, which inspired the HBO series about Atlantic City.
Among all the damage the Biden administration inherited and is now trying to un-do is its efforts to reunite the children separated from their parents at the country’s southern border. How long will the affected children’s psychological wounds endure? If the writing of Pulitzer-prize-winning poet Sharon Olds is an indication, the answer is forever. In interviewing Sharon nothing struck me more than learning about her use of enjambment—of words spilling over line-by-line so urgently, as a way of wrestling control over the very rhythm of her life and craft.
Released today: episode #40 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Sharon Olds, the author of Arias. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode via the New Books Network website.
Sharon Olds is the author of 12 books of poetry, including recently Arias (2019), which was short-listed for the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize. Her 2012 collection Stag’s Leap won both the Pulitzer Prize and England’s T.S. Eliot Prize. She’s the Eric Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University’s Graduate Creating Writing Program.
On January 6th, a participant in the mob storming the Capitol was seen inside the building carrying a Confederate flag defiantly. The ghost of novelist William Faulkner might have smiled at such a sight, not in support of the Rebel cause but because Faulkner believed the past gets repeated endlessly—that what was is never over. That reality applies to nations and individuals alike.
The author of Portrait of a Novel, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Michael Gorra is the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College and the editor of the Norton Critical Editions of As I Lay Dyingand The Sound and the Fury.
This episode touches on two of William Faulkner’s novels in particular: The Sound and the Fury as well as Absalom, Absalom! It considers the role of memory and history, Faulkner’s alcoholism, the sexual exploitation practiced by plantation owners, and the greater presence of Nathan Bedford Forrest over Robert E. Lee in Faulkner’s fiction writings. Ties to today’s reckoning for racial justice is a part of the episode, too.