It can take a long time to write a short story. Just ask Lorrie Moore, a modern master of the form who has just delivered her first collection of stories in 16-years. The eight stories in Bark once again display her arch insight into contemporary mores and a wit that is often mordantly laugh-out-loud funny.
Top Ten contributor Walter Kirn is receiving strong reviews for his transfixing new work of memoir and reportage, Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade. As he explains in a sensational interview with himself in the New York Times (read it right now, then come back), the book concerns “his bizarre 15-year relationship with the infamous impostor and murderer who went by the alias Clark Rockefeller. He met the masquerading German immigrant (whose real name is Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter and who is serving a sentence of 27 years to life in a California prison) in the summer of 1998, when Mr. Kirn was between books and feeling restless.”
Congratulations to Top Ten contributor Roxana Robinson, who has been elected President of the Authors Guild. She replaces another contributor, Scott Turow.
“American writing is alive and well. There is no question about the vitality of our literary community or the vitality of the literary impulse in the United States. There will always be authors, there will always books,” Mr. Turow said at the meeting. “We need to continue the struggle in order to protect writing as a livelihood.”
Our 160th list (!) comes from Porter Shreve, whose latest novel, his fourth, is a splendid book about books that seems straight out of (or straight into?) Top Ten Land. The novelist Brock Clarke says it is “a remarkable novel about the huge promises fathers and sons, writers and readers, books and characters make to each other,” while the writer Antonya Nelson compares it Michael Cunningham’s homage to Virginia Woolf, The Hours.
Alice Hoffman is receiving warm reviews for her The Museum of Extraordinary Things.
Reviewing the novel in the Boston Globe, Jan Stewart observes: “Alice Hoffman specializes in fairy tales for impressionable grown-ups and cautionary tales for precocious adolescents. Not infrequently, the two overlap.”
Top Ten contributor Susan Minot travels vast distances – whether measured by miles, experience or sensibility – for her first novel in more than a decade, Thirty Girls.
Writers are not like wine; most do not improve with age. For many, their first book is their best; others hit their height mid-career. The number who reach their peak – or rediscover it – in old age is vanishingly small.
Wally Lamb is back with an “ultra-contemporary novel” that deploys his gift for empathy to explore love, sadness, sexuality, ethnicity and art across two decades among a group of upper-middle class resident of Connecticut.