Frederick Barthelme talks about his new novel, There Must Be Some Mistake, life after teaching, and why food from the Olive Garden is “execrable in the best possible way.”...more
Posts Tagged: novels
Rebecca Makkai talks about ghosts, teaching, chronology in writing, and her new novel, The Hundred-Year House....more
Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Richard Ford discusses his new book, Let Me Be Frank With You, how metaphor shapes our world, and why he doesn’t like the idea he has a battery to recharge....more
The Rumpus talks to John Darnielle about his debut novel, Wolf in White Van, the differences between writing prose and songwriting, and what it’s like to be a dad....more
Boris Fishman discusses his debut novel, A Replacement Life, Russia, the “immigrant novel,” Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, and Vladimir Putin....more
The Rumpus talks with Susan Minot about MFA programs, Joseph Kony, and throwing out big chunks of text....more
Rainbow Rowell talks about her new novel, Landline, the writing advice she refuses to follow, and young adult fiction....more
The Rumpus talks to Sean Michaels about his new book, Us Conductors, challenging a reader’s empathy, and a true, strange musical instrument: the theremin....more
The Rumpus talks to David Bezmozgis about Israel, making fact into fiction, politics in novels, and his new book, The Betrayers....more
Lev Grossman discusses the challenges of writing a series, why his 20s were a lost decade, and his relationship with his readers....more
Among those who bemoaned the change of rules were a number of British novelists. Why did they assume their American counterparts were better? Or if they thought Americans were just different, why did they assume judges would prefer the game the Americans were playing?
But what if your entire book is based on another one? What if a certain piece of information (in the cases of these books, a writer or a specific novel) is foundational to your text? How, then, should you proceed? Should you explain the referenced work so that those unfamiliar with it can enjoy your book?
At Salon, Laura Miller rebukes Will Self’s criticism of George Orwell at the BBC, arguing that the British novelist has misinterpreted “Politics and the English Language.” She emphasizes the importance that, in his essay, Orwell discussed political writing and did not suggest his “rules” apply to fiction....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
Several recent high profile books, like Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries or Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch, are hefty tomes. As it turns out, these outliers are part of a larger trend toward longer books. Jeremy Anderberg, writing at BookRiot, researched popular books over the last 110 years and found that page lengths are increasing—prize-winning books over the last forty years are almost twice the length of those from the turn of the century....more
Do video games undermine empathy? Or are they just a comfortable scapegoat for a violent culture?
Scientists search for an evolutionary reason for art. Spoiler alert: The answer is men and sex....more
Can a good critic be a good novelist too? Daniel Mendelsohn and Leslie Jamison, who both have written both fiction and non-fiction, answer this question in the weekly Bookend column for the New York Times’s Sunday Review.
Though their ideas differ, the two authors ultimately share the same point of view, summed up in Jamison’s statement that, “We seem to have more patience for the novelist who writes criticism (Henry James, Virginia Woolf) than for the critic who writes novels (Susan Sontag, Lionel Trilling).”
It happens every now and then that we find someone toasting (or mourning) the death of the novel—this time, it’s Will Self’s turn.
“How do you think it feels to have dedicated your entire adult life to an art form only to see the bloody thing dying before your eyes?” At the Guardian, the British writer answers his own question with the transcript of his Richard Hillary Memorial Lecture....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
Another testament to the tribulations of novel-making: over at the New Yorker, Akhil Sharma discusses the particular technical problems he faced while writing Family Life as well as how, exactly, he went about solving them.
The book took twelve and a half years of my life and I am not sure if it was the right investment of my time.
Despite the challenges writers face with debut novels, the second novel is generally considered the most difficult to write. Some second novels fail to exceed the first, and plenty of authors never even write a second novel. But we might be living in the golden age of sophomore novels, declares Bill Morris over at The Millions. He cites Rachel Kushner, Jonathan Miles, and Charles McNair as examples of successful second novelists, adding:
Of course one could argue that a half dozen books do not constitute a trend or herald a new golden age.
“I write because I’ve always wanted to know what bankruptcy feels like.”
John Winters gives his sobering reaction to the hotly debated “MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction,” in his essay, “Why I Write: 2014 Edition.” He details the emerging culture in burgeoning novelists produced by MFA programs, whether NYC is really the best place for a writer to be, and why he keeps writing despite the tough economic climate....more
It’s impossible to predict what will make a book sell well, but scientists at Stony Brook University think they might be on the right track.
After conducting statistical analyses of novels from several genres, they were able to predict with 84% accuracy whether a book was “highly successful” based on certain elements of style such as “discourse connectives” and “verbs that describe thought-processing.”
Of course, there’s a pretty large degree of subjectivity inherent in any study of this nature, but it’s still interesting stuff to think about....more
“Are you absolutely, positively, and wholeheartedly ready to publish your novel?”
It’ll help you figure out whether to dedicate your book to “that barista with the really cool forearm tattoo” and whether Kinko’s employees are trustworthy literary critics....more
“I do not believe that apparent authoritative literary voices of validation would ever make such a grand claim about a novel written by a woman. I say this because I believe there are many novels by women that are about the same sort of world as presented in Freedom. Sadly, the culture usually calls these books domestic or family sagas. Are the novels of Anne Tyler, Marilynne Robinson and Mona Simpson any less white and middle “American” than Franzen”...more
“FoundSF is a wiki that invites history buffs, community leaders, and San Francisco citizens of all kinds to share their unique stories, images, and videos from past and present. There are over 1,800 articles here presenting primary sources, essays, and images from history....more
“A year earlier, I’d celebrated my birthday with an all-night bash. The writing was going well, I went out dancing every night. Now I stared into snowy gloom and wondered what I’d been thinking.”...more