Summer Reads, the Second Shelf, and More


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

“My greatest fear is of suddenly feeling that to devote so much of my life to writing is meaningless. It’s a sensation that I’ve felt very often, and I’m afraid that I will again. I need a lot of determination, a stubborn, passionate adherence to the page, not to feel the urgency of other things to do, a more active way of spending my life. So yes, I’m fragile.” Elena Ferrante talks about the writing process, feminism, and motherhood. (Los Angeles Times)

The New York Times rounds up “seventeen refreshing books to read this summer” and four writers to watch in the coming months: R. O. Kwon, Judy Blundell, Masih Alinejad, and James A. McLaughlin.

“Far more women must take up the charge to collect rare books and first editions by women—as should men, of course, but the evidence suggests we can’t count on them to do so. Institutions must work to redress the unequal representation of writers in their stacks and also work harder to keep women’s work in the critical conversation.” Writer and book dealer A. N. Devers explains why she started collecting rare books by women for her company, the Second Shelf. (Guardian)

Troy Jollimore considers They Knew What They Wanted: Poems & Collages, a recently released collection of John Ashbery’s poems and collages, which offers a “more straightforwardly personal” look at the late poet and his work as a visual artist. (Washington Post)

“I remained that huntress I’d become in hole-of-the-wall America, ignoring syllabus lists and the critically acclaimed in the search for my own canon.” Yelena Moskovich chronicles her experiences growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and looking for a lesbian canon of literature. (Paris Review)

End-of-the-Line Books will open next week in an old boxcar in Oakland. The shop will sell used books, with all proceeds going to the local Girl Scout troop and branch of the American Association of University Women. (Garrett County Republican)

“You have to honor your version of the truth and you have to really search for it and make characters that live up to that.” Dorothy Allison talks about telling the truth in her writing, the working-class hero versus the working-class heroine, and the idea that “literature is not made by good girls.” (Guernica)

Bret Easton Ellis talks about the declining popularity of the novel, how social media has created “group-approved art,” and what he’s working on. (Times Literary Supplement)