With the election putting us all on edge, and the news cycles on both political ends spouting the rhetoric of potentially unprecedented catastrophe depending on the results, let’s step back and look to literature for an answer. For example: the many aspects of Donald Trump’s personality as embodied by several characters in classic lit, from Pola Lim over at Electric Literature....more
Posts by: Victor Luo
Silence sometimes can protect you. It’s easy to think of the one who “saves herself,” who hides in the closet while the rest of the family is raped and killed by men in uniform. But silence can also protect others: when you face down demands to confess or condemn, when you refuse to sing for the master, when you speak not at all rather than speak the words they’ve scripted for you.
While the great classics studied in classrooms everywhere tend to have very memorable titles, those classics could have received slightly different treatment had their working titles been used instead. Over at Electric Literature, Carrie Mullins looks at several classics whose titles changed before publication....more
With so many books winning so many prizes over the years (Nobel this, Pulitzer that), one can’t help but wonder how our generation’s sense of literature might be described in the future. What patterns and obsessions and current trends might be considered as critical to understanding our era?...more
Here’s a question many writers loathe: what does your family think about your writing? Nosy readers gobble up the chance to connect a story’s characters and their real-life counterparts, and writers are generally sick of having their artistic lives colliding with their personal ones....more
You might know about the invention of the printing press revolutionizing the business of publishing, but what about the revolution in actually selling those published books? At Lit Hub, John Pipkin shares innovating bookseller James Lackington’s story of creating a book-selling boon back in 18th century London—he was similar to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos in many ways....more
With so many Americans tuning in and cringing at the deluge of election controversies, we can take a little comfort that there are incredibly apt pieces of fiction to turn to for some perspective. At the Huffington Post, Claire Fallon looks at the renewed fame and interest in Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” during these troubled times, and shares snippets of a new graphic-novel adaptation....more
John Cheever, known as the “Chekov of the suburbs” for his fiction’s signature focus on the domestic, suburban family life in the 40s and 50s, probably couldn’t hack being a single mom today. At McSweeney’s, Jeanne Darst shares the excerpts from Cheever’s fiction that pretty much hit this head on the nail....more
While we may envy writers with books that have just reached critical acclaim or won a prestigious prize, a writer’s fame often doesn’t last for very long. What happens when a writer finds that his fame and influence have waned? Over at Lit Hub, Tom Shroder shares his deeply personal account of living in the shadow of his Pulitzer-prize winning grandfather has he faded into obscurity....more
Feeling like the progress on your novel has stalled? That draft feel like it’s collecting dust as it sits on your hard drive, unopened for months? Worry not! Many novels that have been immortalized in literary history took quite some time to write from start to finish....more
My characters often follow their own family recipes. Our reenactment of the simple tasks of beating egg whites or stuffing meat into cabbage leaves blasts open a portal to a new old world.
The vivid memories of a lovingly cooked family meal are likely to be lodged deep into one’s sentimental mind....more
What kind of reading would best suit someone with your personality? Lit Hub has an excerpt from the forthcoming book “Psychobook: Games, Tests, Questionnaires, Histories,” edited by Julian Rothenstein, that shares Robert McCrum’s questionnaire of ways to gauge readers personalities by their reading diets....more
While fiction embraces the flights of fancy that come with imagination, nonfiction is fairly hostile to writers who stray too far away from the objective facts of the story. How closely should writers of nonfiction stick to facts? At Electric Literature, Justin Lawrence Daugherty makes the case for embracing some unreality in writing nonfiction:
We can talk about truth versus fact.
Writing in Mexico City is like holding a conversation when you’re under the takeoff and landing path of the city’s airplanes: you have to shut up sometimes, to let the noise take over everything, to let the sky split in two before picking up where you left off.
I’ll start again by telling you that this is a body. A body that bears the weight of its makers. A body that’s trying to tell a story, without making it pretty, but this is perhaps where poetry fails me, because we want the beauty in language.
It’s not easy being a literary star. From the existential crises that comes from fame to the struggle to follow up a critically acclaimed first novel, becoming “a writer” for life involves a lot more than publishing a bestseller. Read Lev Grossman’s fascinating bio for TIME Magazine on what Jonathan Safran Foer (author of Everything Is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) has been up to: everything from divorce, leaving a major television project, to taking nearly eleven years to write his third novel....more
Do not assume that empathy equals experience.
Writing outside your personal experience is always a tricky thing, and writing about disabled people when you yourself are not disabled is an especially difficult thing to do. At Lit Hub, Nicola Griffith has some tough words of caution for writers trying to portray the disabled....more
We can best discern how loud our lives feel in the moments when we try to discipline both real and virtual decibels.
As life becomes more modern with ever-advancing technology, noise builds and builds to the point where silence is a luxury....more
With the pinnacle of human physical achievement on full display at the Summer Olympics, enjoy this article about writing literature about the ins and outs of bodybuilding....more
In the latest installment of “The Blunt Instrument” over at Electric Literature, Elisa Gabbert tackles the delicate question of bias in literary journals. Her answer? Take thoughtful reflections and make careful adjustments....more
With the recent presidential election utilizing such unapologetic plagiarism, one wonders just what goes on in the minds of anyone who so confidently uses others’ words as their own. Marina Budhos meditates on this issue as she details the shocking moment of discovering that one of her own writing students had committed plagiarism....more
Are you in a rut with your writing? Blocked for ideas and inspiration? Finding those writing exercises designed to spark your imagination getting a little stale? Try some writing exorcises instead, courtesy of McSweeney’s. A little dark magic might go a long way to helping you buck those obstacles to your writing....more
Writers experience all sorts of anxieties and doubts, such that many find themselves taking a spiraling descent into the worst existential crises. No writer should feel alone in this—over at The Millions, Robert Fay writes about the many writers who have fought the long hard battle against nihilism in their writing careers....more
To do spoken word, you need bodies, you need people, you need that sense of gathering.
Poets have always tapped into an unspoken understanding that language can tap into the ways in which the world works. Over at the Huffington Post, Daveed Digs and Danez Smith discuss how poetry equips children with a sense of voice that inspires them to be more engaged with the world around them....more