For The Millions, Austin Ratner documents the relationship between the “forgotten” Irish writer James Stephens and the famed James Joyce. Despite starting as literary rivals, Joyce wanted Stephens to finish Finnegans Wake if he ever lost his eyesight. In addition, the essay examines Stephens’s influence on other well-known Irish writers, including Seán O’Casey and Eugene O’Neill....more
Posts Tagged: The Millions
For The Millions, Hannah Gersen recalls past attempts to read Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, and explains why she came up short. The essay also serves as an announcement for a new series, in which Gersen will once again attempt to tackle Proust and write monthly posts about her impressions....more
For The Millions, Kate McCahill reflects on illiteracy in the modern world and checks her privilege for growing up “book-rich”:
Books, I realized sharply, suddenly, are too expensive. They’re a luxury item, designated for the rich, for the privileged. Guiltily, I remembered the crammed shelves of my childhood.
Why stuff your body with Thanksgiving leftovers when you could be stuffing your bag with used books?
It was another reminder that I will surely die before I read all of my books, that my descendants will one day be forced to shovel through it all, skeptically asking one another, “Did he actually read all these?”
(On second thought, go ahead and finish those sweet potatoes.)...more
Over at The Millions, Nick Ripatrazone asked some authors, including William Giraldi and Christa Parravani, which were the books that defined their childhoods and, subsequently, their writing imaginations....more
Why is marking a book indispensable to reading it? First, it keeps you awake — not merely conscious, but wide awake. Second, reading, if it is active, is thinking, and thinking tends to express itself in words, spoken or written. The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks.
I’m not consistent like some people seem to be. Sometimes I don’t write at all. If I’m not really working on anything, I might go for quite a while without writing.
November is here, and with it #NaNoWriMo returns! But if you don’t feel like writing 50,000 words in thirty days, over at The Millions Michael Bourne has another option for you, #NaGrafWriMo:
…we would like to propose a kinder, gentler alternative to NaNoWriMo, to be called National Paragraph Writing Month, during which we all strive to write one truly worthwhile paragraph.
For The Millions, Bill Morris wonders what value adventures and life experiences have on writing good fiction. While at first Morris is convinced that adventure is necessary to write quality work, Flannery O’Connor’s Mystery and Manners convinces him that travel and exploring the world are not entirely necessary:
My big mistakes, I now realize, were to equate adventure with experience and to believe that the writer’s job is to be merged in experience.
When a piece of art inspires you, it literally in-spires, breaths into you. It makes us want to create new art. Or, maybe it’s a more basic instinct. From the beginning of our lives, when we hear a good story, a story that as Winterson says becomes “talismanic” for us, what do we say?
Soares notes a longing for a past moment in Lisbon, for an unnamed soul who he has missed. “I love you as ships passing one another must love, feeling an unaccountable nostalgia in their passing.” … To call Lisbon a “city of lost things,” is to say it is a place where those losses can be felt in the cafés and the streets and with each “Bom dia” you might say to a garçom on the esplanade, just as Fernando Pessoa did.
For The Millions, Jacob Lambert explores how listening to music while writing can influence performance. Although some studies show that music may impede concentration and “disrupt writing fluency,” others suggest that music can “lift your mood and increase your arousal.” Lambert is ultimately inconclusive in the article, however he does reference Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club, which was written while listening to Nine Inch Nails:
It’s a tempting narrative, and one that fits with the Internet’s culture of simple solutions: If you’re having trouble with that short story, just put on some Brian Eno.
This year’s judges of the National Book Award seem to agree that women’s nonfiction writing is abundant and prize-worthy. The 2015 nonfiction longlist includes seven female-authored books, out of 10, the largest percentage of female nominees in the prize’s history. The longlist also contains two books by people of color, compared to last year’s one.
For The Millions, Janet Potter offers a “handy” guide to help authors come up with catchy titles for books at various stages in their careers. For those writing “the disappointing sophomore effort,” Potter advises:
Get out your favorite album. Rank the tracks in order of how much you like them.
For the past century American writers and artists have been obsessed with that shimmering, sexy, liberating, lethal contraption known as the automobile…Is there a more potent metaphor for American restlessness, for the American hunger for status and sex, for the American tendency to wind up, broken and bloody, in a ditch?
I never recoiled, in that first season, to hear the nice people on the bus say “beautiful baby,” to us in reverent tones. It’s a thanksgiving for safe passage, a prayer for all new defenseless things. But after a few months have passed … faint suggestions of the adult visage emerge.
For The Millions, Adam Boffa compares Lydia Davis’s short stories to social media. He argues that Davis’s compressed language, as well as her emphasis on routine and tragedy, works to “recreate a phenomenon that occurs daily on social media”:
Davis’s work, and maybe social media at its best, becomes a sort of celebration of the ordinary, the boring, the totally expected, the regular.
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.
For The Millions, Catherine K. Buni revisits the work of Joseph Mitchell to explore “hybrid genres” that meld elements of journalism with other forms. In addition, the essay considers the benefits of “fabricating” the truth in creative nonfiction in order to better communicate the “essence of the matter.”...more
Often mentioned in the same breath as works of James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, Ó Cadhain’s novel is, in some ways, even more radically experimental. For starters, all the characters are dead and speaking from inside their coffins…
The Millions reviews Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s modernist classic ‘Cré na Cille’ (The Dirty Dust), now available in English for the first time....more
For The Millions, Christian Kriticos revisits J.D. Salinger’s story “Hapworth 16, 1924,” and tries to place the story within Salinger’s celebrated career. Although the story receives much criticism for its “strange” meandering style, Kriticos claims this structure “follows the contours of the mind” and that it should be appreciated for diverging from Salinger’s usual style:
Unlike the modernist form of stream-of-consciousness, “Hapworth” is both internal and external at the same time: in addressing his letter to his family, Seymour the narrator is communicating externally; but, at the same time, large portions of the letter seem to be directed at himself.
Can we trust Sebald’s words? It doesn’t matter. The fragmented motifs, repeated images, are scattered throughout the texts and sweep you along to a conclusion, at which there magically appears sense to the whole. Verily, the field has been thoroughly sniffed out.