The new book by Teddy Wayne, Kapitoil, is about an immigrant from Qatar who lands in New York City right before Y2K. He creates a new software program to predict oil futures which creates moral dilemmas several times over.
It is Wayne's first book and it's out now from Harper Perennial. Here are the five best things he's read recently…
01 Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace by David Lipsky
I wrote my undergrad thesis about a decade ago on Wallace’s Infinite Jest (and had the pleasure of sharing a cab with him from the airport and later going out to dinner with him, because of that thesis). I bought this book, an unexpurgated conversation between Wallace and
Rolling Stone journalist Lipsky for five days on the Infinite Jest book
tour in 1996, for the flight before the last leg of my own, fractionally
monumental book tour for Kapitoil, and finished it on the plane home.
It was the ideal way to read it—in the same sorts of liminal spaces and
under similar pressures, though I’m far from the issues or tagalong
journalists with which Wallace had to cope. Parts become
repetitive—Lipsky’s DFW-like interjections, Wallace’s own thoughts about
celebrity’s corrupting influence on writing—but it’s still a relatively
uncensored look into a quicksilver intellect and capacious heart.
02 Zeitoun by Dave Eggers
This account of a Syrian-American’s post-Katrina travails—canoe rescues through New Orleans, Kafkaesque imprisonment, legal skirmishes after—is as riveting as everyone says and a stellar example of unobtrusive creative nonfiction where the authorial voice is completely effaced.
03 “Pickup Truck Stoled” from The Onion
I’m a fan of anything that’s written in consistent dialect that feels authentic and original—Kapitoil is an attempt at this—and this Onion article, composed in Southern slang, is a comedic tour de force. The bracketed section is my favorite part.
04 The Mezzo by Eric Lundgren
Permit me to indulge in some cronyism here and below. Eric is a former MFA classmate of mine from Washington University in St. Louis, and we also share the same literary agent, so I’m biased, but I wouldn’t be citing this if his manuscript of The Mezzo, the story of Norberg, a middle-aged man whose opera-singer wife has mysteriously disappeared in their fictional Midwestern city of Trude, weren’t one of the most inventive and funny novels—forget the diminutive tag of “debut”—I’ve read in years. Whoever gets to publish it should count themselves fortunate. It’s what Don DeLillo would be writing if he were in his early thirties in 2010.
05 The Traveling Habits of Strays by Sarah Buishas
More manuscript cronyism! It’s like a much lower-stakes version of the Bush administration. Sarah is also a grad-school classmate, and her novel-in-progress—a pseudo-Bonnie-and-Clyde with Peter Parker-and-Gwen Stacy delusions go on the lam in Iowa and hide out in Chicago—has blade-sharp prose and characterizations and a propulsive narrative. I get jealous over how good and non-MFA-clichéd her writing is. It’s what Lorrie Moore would be writing if she were in her late twenties in 2010.
Honorable mention: I Am the Child of Don DeLillo and Lorrie Moore, a memoir by Lonnie DeLillo-Moore, who is exactly thirty years old in 2010.