paper trail

Elvia Wilk reflects on writing and reenacting her debut novel; Emily Hall discusses diagramming sentences

Elvia Wilk. Photo: Nina Subin/Soft Skull Press

The latest issue of Columbia Journalism Review, titled “The Everything Virus,” is anchored by Jon Allsop’s media reporting and takes stock of how the COVID-19 pandemic has been covered over the last two and a half years. 

n+1 has published an excerpt from Elvia Wilk’s forthcoming essay collection, Death by Landscape, in which she reflects on writing, rewriting, and even reenacting her debut novel, Oval: “Even for those writers who have every paragraph outlined before they begin (not me), there remains a tiny element of the unknown when you set the simulation in motion. You can only create the conditions for something to happen, and plan for that thing to happen, but you can’t ever be completely sure—unless you write the whole fucking book. You have to carry out the experiment.”

At the New Yorker, staff writers share their summer book recommendations, which include Cookie Mueller’s Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black, Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, Gillian Rose’s Love’s Work, and more. 

Angelo Hernandez-Sias interviews Emily Hall about her debut novel, The Longcut, for the Los Angeles Review of Books. They talk about Hall’s interest in diagramming sentences, walking and thinking, and writing about visual art. Recalling a sculpture she saw twenty years ago, Hall tells Hernandez-Sias: “I still can’t describe it! And that seemed to me so exciting: having to describe things that are not only hard to describe, but that don’t want to be described, or to have their meaning formulated in words. I can only describe this as an extreme cognitive pleasure.”

Emily Bobrow profiles Joshua Cohen for the Wall Street Journal. The author discusses how Harold Bloom told him an anecdote about Benzion Netanyahu that inspired Cohen’s Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Netanyahus: “I couldn’t believe that Harold had handed me this allegory and he just thought it was an experience.”