Sean Wilsey discusses his latest book of essays, More Curious, being David Foster Wallace’s neighbor, the healing power of the American road trip, and the difference between writing fiction and memoir. ...more
Kill Bill is revolutionary because it disrupts both content and genre, beautifully showcasing what these superhero-action stories so consistently overlook, while embodying the success of what the genre could achieve....more
Author Jeremy Hawkins discusses his debut novel, The Last Days of Video, the resurgence of the independent bookstore industry, and allowing nostalgia to have presence but not precedence in one’s life. ...more
I was excited to see the New York Times’s announcement that a regular column by the writer Geoff Dyer called “Reading Life” would be appearing in their weekend Book Review. I was even more intrigued and, somehow, encouraged, when eventually it appeared only three times....more
As a culture, we tend to place more significance on the mystique of death than the actual event. We avoid considering the details: the transportation of the body down to the morgue, the excising of the organs, the decay of the skin within the tomb....more
"Master fictioneer" Matthew Baker talks about his new middle grade novel, If You Find This, artists as tricksters, his favorite comic strips, and why children are still capable of believing in impossible things. ...more
Author Daniel José Older talks about his new novel, Shadowshaper, noir influence in urban fantasy, gentrification, white privilege and the publishing industry, and why we need diverse books, now more than ever. ...more
After the Supreme Court ruling acknowledging the right to same-sex marriage was announced, musicians across the country have spent the weekend expressing their joy. Miley Cyrus said “thank you America for not cutting my chances to find true love forever and ever by 50%,” Madonna declared “The Revolution of Love has Begun,” and John Legend celebrated each of the rulings that came down this past week, saying, “Very happy about the SCOTUS rulings this week! Marriage Equality, Fair Housing and Affordable Health Care!” Alternative Press and Pigeons and Planes have also compiled messages of love from musicians in reaction to the landmark decision, and that just scratches the surface.
Recently, several novelists have criticized the primary curriculum in the UK for teaching a brand of creative writing that is too “complex.” For the Guardian, Ella Slater explains why she agrees with such criticism, arguing that her primary education has made writing simple and direct prose difficult:
As someone now struggling with keeping my prose simple and fluent, I can only say that I regret that the primary curriculum left so much to the secondary. If I had not had engraved in me a long-lasting fear of all things simplistic, I am certain that I would be a much better writer today.
Now, I was wondering if you could help me get something to eat. You wouldn’t be just handing me money to do whatever with — I know that’s a concern for some people. You could go with me to a store — wherever you want. And I wouldn’t ask you to do it all for me; I don’t want to ask too much. I have a dollar and thirty-five cents, and I’d put that towards whatever you bought. You’d be helping me, but I wouldn’t ask you to do the whole thing.
That’s a thing some people ask for, but I want you to know I’ll do my part.
In the latest installment of his “Field Notes from Gentrified Places” column over at McSweeney’s, Vinson Cunningham writes about San Francisco.
Queen mother of lady nerds Margaret Atwood has reaffirmed her status as the OG Cool Chick Carol by contributing to an all-female nonfiction anthology called The Secret Loves of Geek Girls. As if we needed another incentive to support women writers.
For the Millions, Philip Graham considers how childhood traumas can inspire art. In his exploration, Graham looks to works by John Gardner, Rabih Alameddine, and James Baldwin, authors who confront “psychic wounds” and use writing as a method of healing:
We writers are used to looking back, locating in our rough drafts any glimmer that might show the way forward. A story, a poem, a novel, or a memoir won’t reach its best destination without the labor of reconsideration, without the ability to see afresh what is obscure, or incomplete. And neither will the story of our lives.
The satisfying crack when the bat met the ball resounded throughout Jingu Stadium. Scattered applause rose around me. In that instant, for no reason and on no grounds whatsoever, the thought suddenly struck me: I think I can write a novel.
At Lit Hub, Murakami shares the introduction to Wind/Pinball: Two Novels, due out in August, about his twenties and the exact moment he became a novelist while at a baseball game. He shares the story of his first business—a jazz cafe—his first attempt at writing a novel, the cultivation of his style via translation, and more lovely tidbits of reminiscence.
Like a detective novel, these books are characterized by a central mystery and the process of detection that leads to solving that mystery. The mystery, however, is not a crime—it’s a life. A person, usually only tangentially related to the subject (the latter is often deceased), becomes engrossed in the discovery of this person’s life, and in the best of the genre we also discover more about the detective’s self along the way.
Writing for LitHub, Nicola DeRobertis-Theye explores the genre of “biographical detection” and provides a reading list for this newly-named literary device.
Over at the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring talks about James Wright’s famous epiphanic poem Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota, in conjunction with Ann Beattie’s new story Yancey, and the general discussion and controversy of the poem’s famous last line: “I have wasted my life.”
For a nicely surreal twist on the summer outdoor concert, the Storm King Art Center, an outdoor sculptural garden north of New York City featuring works by the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Goldsworthy, and Alexander Calder, offer up its annual series. And this year’s lineup doesn’t fail to earn the series’ setting, with The Feelies, Frankie Cosmos, Lee Ranaldo (formerly of Sonic Youth), Porches, and Alex Bleeker and the Freaks carrying its dates through September. The series began this past weekend with Frankie Cosmos and Porches, to be followed by Ranaldo on August 9, and then The Feelies and Alex Bleeker and the Freaks closing it on September 20th. Find details and more via Control Touring.
Amazon launched an online bookstore two decades ago. Since then, the Internet has been changing the way readers buy books. Paris has been a major book-selling city since the 17th century, when the first bouquinistes began lining the banks of the Seine. The 240 bouquinistes sell everything from the rare to the out-of-print, but now they face a serious threat from Internet sellers. BBC takes a look at these unique Parisian booksellers on the precipice of either evolution or extinction.
If you loved Choose Your Own Adventure stories as a kid and still wonder where all that branching narrative magic went, you might want to check out ADJUNCT by Ishmael Gilgamesh, in which you are a writer (of some kind) who may (or may not) become an adjunct to pay the bills. This cheeky postmodern pseudo-adventure lives on Inklewriter, the latest and probably best platform yet developed to host branching narratives on the web. You can create and share your own stories too—but be warned: it’s harder than it looks!
Tuesday 6/30: Join the Los Angeles Public Library in celebrating pride month with readings by Los Angeles area writers, artists and activists Veronica Reyes, Kyle Sawyer, Melissa Chadburn, and Seth Fischer. 6 p.m. at the Arroyo Seco Branch Library.
And in the Saturday interview, Anna March talks with Salon editor and author Sarah Hepola about alcoholism and the distorted worldview that comes along with it. Hepola talks movingly about her blackouts, which became the “through line” in her memoir of the same name. A breakthrough comes when she realizes exactly who the “cool kids” are.
Meanwhile, Christine Sneed declares that the city at the core of her new book of fiction, Paris, He Said, “is sensuous and beautiful;” the French sensibility is “very attuned to beauty and quality.” In the Sunday Interview with Suzanne Clores, Sneed discusses her main character Jayne’s transition from college to adulthood and her development as a single, female artist in Paris.