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First Looks, March 2012: The Pretty Girl and Conversations with David Foster Wallace

Hello again, FWR friends. Welcome to the second installment of our new blog series,  “First Looks,” which highlights soon-to-be released books that have piqued my interest as a reader-who-writes. We publish “First Looks” here on the FWR blog around the 15th of each month, and as always, I’d love to hear your comments and your recommendations of forthcoming titles. Please drop me a line anytime: erika(at)fictionwritersreview(dot)com, and thanks in advance.

Here are just two of the many intriguing books scheduled to be released before we meet again one month from now:

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Debra Spark, an author familiar to me mainly through her impressive craft book, Curious Attractions: Essays on Fiction Writing, and through my attendance at a lively AWP panel some years back that featured her. Spark was writing to me, she said, because she has a new book publishing soon and someone had told her that I know a few things about the Jewish book-blogging world. (Flattery may not get you everywhere, but it is getting Debra Spark into this post!)

All kidding aside, I’m looking forward to reading the new book, The Pretty Girl, a collection comprising six stories and a novella which, I understand, “revolve around artists, artistry, and the magical—sometimes malicious—deceptions they create.” (Check out the trailer here.) But maybe before I do that, I should perhaps read Spark’s 2009 Michigan Literary Award-winning novel, Good for the Jews, which intrigued me not only when I saw its title but also when I learned that it was loosely modeled on the Book of Esther. (Esther is the heroine of the Jewish holiday of Purim, which was celebrated last week.)

Next: Sometimes, it’s still a little hard to believe that David Foster Wallace (1962-2008) is no longer among us. “The Depressed Person,” a short story that appeared in Harper’s before it was collected in Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, remains, for reasons unnecessary to detail here, one of the most memorable stories I’ve ever read. If you, too, have been affected as a reader and/or as a writer by Wallace, you’ll want to take note of Conversations with David Foster Wallace, a collection of interviews and profiles coming from the University Press of Mississippi. Edited by Steven J. Burn, the book promises a previously unpublished interview (from 2005) and an expanded version of an interview originally published in Review of Contemporary Fiction. Warning: I’ve read through it already courtesy of NetGalley, and I wasn’t able to bring myself to finish the concluding piece, David Lipsky’s well-known Rolling Stone article, “The Lost Years and Last Days of David Foster Wallace,” which was published after Wallace’s death. The preceding profiles and interviews were too vibrant, too engaged in the life and work  and genius of this brilliant writer, to permit such a sad about-face.

Until next month…

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