Politics are not widely considered a legitimate source of amusement in Hollywood, where the borrowed rhetoric by which political ideas are reduced to choices between the good (equality is good) and the bad (genocide is bad) tends to make even the most casual political small talk resemble a rally.
[W]anting to make a career in letters and not being on Twitter and Facebook — that is, not wanting to share your work constantly with the strangers you met on airplanes and in restaurants and people you hadn’t seen since seventh grade — became the equivalent of not actually wanting to be a writer at all....more
Mardi Gras may have been last week, but the good times keep on rolling. New Orleans-based soul artist Walter “Wolfman” Washington knows a thing or two about good times—in his good-humored single “Mickey Mouse Boarding House,” the silky R&B crooner complains about his lodgings in the funkiest way possible....more
There is, in fact, a widespread view that humor abandons its true purpose when it ceases to punch upward from below, when it ceases to play David to the great Goliath of state or society, and instead punches down, targeting the weak and the downtrodden, the suckers and the yokels.
All that is nonsense though. Write what you like. If you haven’t facts make up with lyricism.
In 1892, Anton Chekhov sent a letter to V. A. Tihonov including a fictitious 200-word bio. 123 years later to the day, the letter has been translated into English by Constance Garnett over at the Paris Review....more
Today in impossible black holes: hey check out this impossible black hole!
Maybe we’ll be ready for full body transplants in two years. Maybe a lot of things....more
The long-awaited release of The Autobiography of Malcolm X in ebook format is on track for May of this year, to commemorate what would have been the activist’s 90th birthday. The print edition has been available from Ballantine, an imprint of Penguin Random House, for some time; the author’s estate is spearheading the digital publication in keeping with his principles, according to attorney L....more
(n.); allurement, enticement, coquetry; flirtation; from the French agacer (“to tease”)
Fictional characters – unlike the messy organisms from which they derive – float free from the sordid contingencies of the body, because, no matter how convincingly they’re portrayed as being embodied, the medium within which they operate is, self-evidently, a mental one.
The investigatory saga following an accusation of foul play in the death of poet Pablo Neruda appears to be drawing to a close, thanks to a Chilean judge’s ruling. Neruda’s remains were exhumed in 2013, in the hopes of discovering whether his death was truly the result of his cancer, or the product of a politically motivated assassination by poison....more
Writing for Publishers Weekly, William J. Maxwell examines the 1,884-page FBI file on James Baldwin—the longest on record—as part of his effort to obtain surveillance information on African American authors through the Freedom of Information Act. Along with reports on literary giants like Lorraine Hansberry and Amiri Baraka, Baldwin’s file reveals a complex relationship between Hoover’s office and the authors, characterized by intermittent respect for the literary work and a healthy fear of the writers’ standing as leaders of the black community....more
I wasn’t sure that it was elegant, or even grammatically sound, but I did know it was just how my narrator—who spends the novel negotiating issues of privacy and voyeurism—would want the book to end. Grammatical or not, it was my last line, and I was sticking to it.
The Marvel universe is about to get a much-needed dose of perspective when G. Willow Wilson’s all-female team of Avengers arrives this May. NPR talked to Wilson about gender, identity, and ladies who draw:
If we’re going to have an all-female team, let’s really push the envelope and talk about what gender means… Can you choose to be human?
Agatha Christie was never shy to reply to her fan mail, and now the notable crime writer’s letters will be collected and published in celebration of her 125th birthday. The collection will not only feature Christie’s letters, but also the original fan mail, including correspondences with a Polish woman who told Christie that her novel The Man in the Brown Suit helped her to survive German labor camps during the second world war:
“I read and reread (it) so often that I almost knew it by heart,” she wrote.
To master dialogue, description, subtext, plot, structure, character, time, point of view, beginnings, endings, theme and much besides is a Herculean labour, not made more appealing by the fact that you always—always—fail.
Sometimes I envy Absalom. He had recourse. He had power. He raised up an army in his rage. He did something. He turned his rage into an insurrection. All I’ve ever done is turn my anger into words. How can a sister avenge her sister?
At The Millions, Jonathan Russell Clark analyzes several last sentences from well-known novels by Hemingway, Tolstoy, Morrison, and Roth. He pays particular attention to the craftsmanship necessary to write these sentences, and considers how last sentences work to reinforce larger themes within a novel:
For writers, the last sentences aren’t about reader responsibility at all — it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stop worrying about what comes next, because nothing does.
Due to some technical problems Morning Coffee will be back tomorrow. Thanks for being buds....more
Another Sherlock Holmes story has been discovered hidden away in an attic. Fifty years ago, Walter Elliot had been given a 1904 story collection containing the 1,300-word Holmes tale. The 80-year-old historian recently rediscovered the book containing the story, “Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar.” Its not the first time a lost Sherlock Holmes manuscript has reappeared, and though there may not be any more stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the detective will live on in stories written by others—last year a judge ruled that the character has transitioned to the public domain....more