Posts by: Serena Candelaria
Vivian Maier has been called one of the greatest street photographers of the 20th century, but during her lifetime, she worked as a nanny and kept her photography on rolls of film that went undeveloped. Over at The Millions, Janet Potter raises questions about Maier’s decision to keep her artwork to herself: “Why is someone who takes so many photos a nanny?...more
As any lover of literature might tell you, all books are not created equal. But this does not mean that there is nothing to be gained from novels that are, in many ways, flawed. Over at the New York Times, writers Leslie Jamison and James Parker discuss “supposedly terrible books that left a lasting impression”:
I will always love Go Ask Alice for the very qualities that make it an aesthetic failure.
Any rowdies heading to the back room of Brooklyn’s Soda Bar for some mid-week carrying-on last Wednesday night were in for a surprise. In the large, living-room-like space—ringed by a mismatched assortment of couches, cushy chairs, and coffee tables—there was a civilized silence.
Since I was old enough to set out on my own I have been an avid traveler. I turned this obsession into a profession seven years ago when I became a foreign correspondent for the New York Times…
Nicolas Kulish, the East Africa correspondent for the New York Times, co-authored a book on Aribet Heim, “a Nazi concentration camp doctor who fled postwar justice in Germany.” In order to put together a book that, in many ways, is a biography, Kulish spent over half a decade traveling through Denmark, Austria, Egypt, Morocco, and Germany....more
I wanted that plate. Lifting it up, I held it in my hands. Then, opening up my fingers, I let it drop. It fell with a sharp crash and smashed into three chunks… My mother recognized my handiwork. She cried for hours.
At a 2011 panel discussion, Erin Hosier, a writer and literary agent, said that she wrote for the money. She had just gotten a book deal to write a personal memoir, and was looking forward to receiving her advance. In a recent interview with The Millions, Hosier says she assumed that the memoir “would just burst forth from [her] hands.” In 2014, Hosier’s memoir is still forthcoming....more
If sentimentality is a sin, it is only because feeling can be so beautiful. One moment of sentiment in literature is worth a thousand failures. We often cannot see the rafters in the dark, but what a shame it would be to never reach for them.
Steven Roggenbuck has been producing poetry “that is made, distributed, and viewed almost exclusively on the Web” since 2010. In this article in the New Yorker, Kenneth Goldsmith calls Roggenbuck’s videos, with their shaky camerawork and rough jump cuts, “meticulously crafted infomercials for poetry.”
While some might question Roggenbuck’s improvised style, Goldsmith writes, “This type of writing has deep roots, extending back to the cosmological visions of William Blake, through the direct observation poems of the Imagists, the anti-art absurdities of Dada, and the nutty playfulness of Surrealism…”
Reflecting on his experiences as an Internet poet, Roggenbuck said, “This is the dream for poets, to be a poet when the Internet exists....more
“Why are you so interested in MFAs and whether they’re a good idea or not?” asked Rumpus friend Sheila Heti, in a recent interview with the New Yorker. Heti, who did not attend grad school, believes that it is possible for writers to fully immerse themselves in their craft without the help of a program....more
Before Leslie Jamison was a New York Times bestseller, she was a student at Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In an interview with The Millions, Jamison said she has “a lot of faith and trust in the workshop process,” but this doesn’t mean she believes that the workshop process doesn’t come with its own set of limitations....more
In the 1990s, Junot Diaz enrolled in an MFA program where there was silence when it came to critical discussions of racial identity. As Diaz writes in the New Yorker, “Shit, in my workshop we never talked about race except on the rare occasion someone wanted to argue that ‘race discussions’ were exactly the discussion a serious writer should not be having.” In this sentiment, there was a refusal to truly acknowledge the lives and cultures of certain groups of people....more
What’s the difference between an essay and a novel? Teju Cole considered that question in his 2012 essay, “The White Savior Industrial Complex,” writing that essays have points, while novels do not.
While Cole continues to stand by this essay, he admits that there are exceptions to this rule....more
Terrifying though the unknown may seem, there are benefits to plunging into the murky waters of uncertainty. In an essay featured in the New Yorker, Rebecca Solnit writes, “It’s the job of writers and explorers to see more, to travel light when it comes to preconception, to go into the dark with their eyes open.”
There is so much we don’t know, and to write truthfully about a life…is to engage repeatedly with those patches of darkness…those places of unknowing.
An article published in Flavorwire hails Cheryl Strayed (Rumpus’ very own Sugar) as a publishing hero. In Jason Diamond’s words, “Strayed is the rare type of writer who is both critically and commercially embraced, but also keeps her feet firmly planted in the literary world.” But how did this come to be?...more
When my grandmother taught me to make banana pancakes, which we did every Wednesday night through much of my childhood, she would counsel “Hold the bowl” as I stirred, which became, in our letters to each other, code for “I love you.”
Might cooking for another person be considered an act of love?...more
Critics might believe that “like” has infiltrated and degraded American English, but John McWhorter argues just the contrary. McWhorter claims that “like” is not a marker of the downfall of spoken language, but instead, a sign of its “growing sophistication.” He explains that “like” is not necessarily a sign of hesitation and indecision; it can be used to signify consideration....more
“The dream of speed-reading has been around since long before screens were ubiquitous,” as James Camp writes in the New Yorker. Now, the much-discussed startup Spritz is promising to make that dream a reality with a technology that streams text in word by word, obviating the need to move one’s eyes while reading....more
“Women are more likely than men to change form and style,” or so Stacey D’Erasmo writes in this New Yorker piece. Female artists tend to transform their work over the course of their careers, while male artists are more likely to remain faithful to the styles with which they make their debuts....more
I came from, not a small town, but basically not a very interesting place…So it was very important for me not to rebel but simply to get away, to go away.
Travel writing doesn’t have to be lackluster. It can be smart and a pleasure to read, a form of literature in its own right, as Paul Theroux, Ryszard Kapuściński, Peter Matthiessen, and Jan Morris demonstrate in their work....more
…the unplugging movement is the latest incarnation of an ageless effort to escape the everyday, to retreat from the hustle and bustle of life in search of its still core.
Phones, computers, and tablets, once seen as a way of facilitating interpersonal interactions, are increasingly being seen as barriers when it comes to face-to-face interactions....more
People of color have been largely excluded from children’s literature. Of the 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, only 93 featured black characters. In his essay, “The Apartheid of Children’s Literature,” Christopher Myers speaks out against the trend of allowing members of certain racial groups to go unseen because of the color of their skin....more
You’ve heard the rules of writing before. You probably know them well enough to recite “a litany as deeply embedded as the Lord’s Prayer.”
Show, don’t tell. Write what you know. The first sentence is key. The last sentence is key… You should never write in the second person.