Sophomore Novels, Writing Daydreams, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

“No book is written in a vacuum, and an author’s sophomore novel is in many respects a product of the trauma caused by writing and publishing her debut.” Lauren Groff on how Virginia Woolf defied expectations with her second novel, Night and Day. (Paris Review)

In 2010 the best-selling medical miracle saga The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven sparked a boom in “heaven tourism” publishing. At Slate, Ruth Graham unpacks the ongoing controversy behind the book: “coauthor” Alex Malarkey claims the stories he told as a six-year-old recovering from a coma were exploited by his father.

“A lot of the tension in my writing seems to arise from huge reserves of affection that are unarticulated, characters who don’t know what to do with their feelings.” Ayşegül Savaş on the influence of daydreams, fantasy friendships, e-mail, and W. G. Sebald on her debut novel, Walking on the Ceiling. (BOMB)

Following the fact-finding fracas over Naomi Wolf’s latest book, Outrages, the New York Times reports that Wolf is fighting back with “a strategy that mixes the genteel traditions of scholarly peer review with crisis management.”

At Vulture, Emily Nussbaum talks to fellow television critic Matt Zoller Seitz about the ambition of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the changing nature of TV, and the “Bad Fan” theory of her essay collection, I Like to Watch.

New York City bookseller Michael Seidenberg, who opened his first bookstore in 1979 and eventually ran Brazenhead Books out of his apartment, has died. (Publishers Weekly)

“Sometimes I feel novels are also being domesticated. Too beautiful, too contained, too well crafted. Like products. They must not lose their wilderness. I wanted my novel to be like the wild, untamed city I live in.” In an adaptation of their PEN America’s World Voices conversation, Arundhati Roy talks to Siddhartha Deb about the mystery of readers and the curiosity of writers. (Literary Hub)

And Inside Higher Ed charts the rise of the critical interview as a major academic genre that has unpacked the writing of Judith Butler, E. M. Forster, Fred Moten, and many others.