John Freeman knows authors. Last year he published How To Read a Novelist, a collection of 55 author interviews. In this month’s issue of BOMB, Freeman interviewed Rumpus Essays Editor Emeritus Roxane Gay calling her “the best thing that came out of Nebraska since the 1971 Cornhuskers football team.”...more
Reminded of a quote from Charles Baxter — “‘if you want a compelling story…put your protagonist among the damned” — Jabai Asim argues, in Bookforum’s “Daily Review” that while Ferguson is intriguing as a historical moment, it’s just as important to watch “the continuing battle of who gets to tell“ the story....more
Jane Austen invented a clever way of editing her manuscripts: pins. Without the convenience of electronic word processors, Austen relied on a method of pinning snippets of text into her manuscript drafts. Open Culture looks at The Watsons, one of Austen’s manuscript drafts that employs the method....more
At Salon, Molly Fischer criticizes the New York Times’s “Bookends” column, going so far as to suggest that the it be eliminated for good. She compares the question-and-answer formats — and the content of the prompts — as reminiscent of high school English classes:
It’s not just the stiff phrasing (“What should we make of this?” “What’s behind the notion?”) that gives Bookends its blue-books-and-binder-paper feel.
In Koktebel, on the southern coast of Crimea, artists have gathered for almost a century, attracted to the “particular light and kinetic landscapes.” Now, with the annexation of Crimea, Neil Macfarquhar of the New York Times reports that the summer writer’s colony is divided, and the otherwise communal atmosphere has given way to two competing factions: the pro-Russian Crimea and the anti-Russia Crimea....more
The changing economics of the publishing industry may be hurting profits, but it has also allowed writers room to experiment with new forms that are often more challenging to readers than has been allowable in the past. Instead of meeting declining sales with pedestrian replicas of past successes, authors are taking greater risks, and often rewarded for it, explains Thomas McMullan at the Guardian:
Perhaps the taste for inventiveness stems not so much from reaching back into modernism, but more from the desire to find something representative of the physically detached, digitally connected way most of us communicate, just as Joyce was compelled to find a new way to express the rapidly changing face of the early 20th century.
Should a writer submit to a literary magazine that only “pays” in contributor copies? What does it mean that we, in the literary community, have accepted lack of monetary payment as commonplace?
Writer Michael Harris discusses digital distraction and reading War and Peace at Salon:
But there’s a religious certainty required in order to devote yourself to one thing while cutting off the rest of the world. We don’t know that the inbox is emergency-free, we don’t know that the work we’re doing is the work we ought to be doing.
Homogeneity in the literary scene isn’t a recent development. Earlier this year, Junot Diaz caused a stir by branding the unbearable too-whiteness of his workshop experience. Justin Torres and Ayana Mathis couldn’t help but contribute:
“One of the characters is sort of referred to as having something like almond skin, something that would identify the character as black.
Since founding Italy’s National Diary Archive Foundation in 1984, Saverio Tutino has amassed “thousands of diaries, letters, [and] autobiographies,” in an attempt at “remembering, and celebrating, the lives of ordinary people.” As reported by Elisabetta Poveledo in the New York Times, this city, Pieve Santo Stefano, outside of Arezzo, has become known as the “City of Diaries.”...more
Call it a love song, call it a crush song—either way, Mayer Hawthorne’s infectious track “Hooked,” off his 2011 album How Do You Do, reels us in and does not let us go. The old school soul sound that permeates the record is on full display in “Hooked,” and the high energy vocals and funky horns keep us hollering for more....more
The CLMP blog interviews the staff of literary magazine, A Public Space, for a nice, succinct take on what it’s like to be a contemporary lit editor. Contains: public confusion on the term “a public space”, answers to the age-old “is social media destroying everything?” question, and alternate career aspirations of the staff....more
Drop everything and watch this 1965 Soviet documentary about lunar colonization.
Without going too far, Soviet Ghosts is your ruin porn/photo essay for the whatever.
Important nightmare news: cities are making spiders get bigger and multiply faster.
You should probably be prepared for a crazy giant Icelandic volcanic eruption....more
At the New York Times, writer Terry Pratchett discusses what he’s reading, who inspires him, and what makes a good fantasy novel. He also reveals one of his favorite childhood books and what made it so great:
I found a book called “The Wind in the Willows,” by Kenneth Grahame, and I just exploded.
(n.); belief in ghosts; etymology difficult to trace, but typically attributed to the Greek eidolon (“image, apparition, phantom, ghost”)
There was something else in the house, unmentioned and unlabelled. A sort of shadowy presence that hovered by the back door. No one referred to it, so I kept quiet, but without ever really actually seeing anything I knew it was a boy.
Future generations may never understand the simply joy of searching a used bookstore for a long-coveted title. While online megastores allow readers access to virtually any book, typing a title into a search box is much less satisfying than sleuthing through shelves of pre-owned books....more
The Paris Review has an excerpt from Peter Mendelsund’s book What We See When We Read that questions what we think we know about characters. Mendelsund points out that many of us feel like we know our favorite characters intimately, but when asked about what they look like don’t have specific answers....more
Writing a novel requires plenty of time, and Irish author Julian Gough is hoping to fund that time with a Kickstarter campaign he has dubbed Litcoin. For small amounts of money, Gough will send contributors postcards stained with whiskey, coffee, lipstick, bullet holes, or, for a mere $500, a postcard written in his blood....more
Contrary to the mission of National Novel Writing Month, most novels take far longer to complete, as stay-at-home dad Ryan McSwain learned when he set out to write his first novel, Monsters All the Way Down. The book, due out next month, took more than three years to write and another year to finalize....more
It is imperative that we shoot lawn darts at mars.
The world is so full of awful things these days, so let’s just take a moment to appreciate this baby fennec fox....more
When I was twenty, I submitted a puzzle that [Will Shortz] rejected. He cited MALE GAZE among the entries he found unworthy of publication. I don’t doubt that a woman or a younger editor might have deemed that entry an asset as opposed to a demerit.