Posts Tagged: The Millions

It Was a Joke

By

In an essay on author authenticity for The Millions, Alcy Levy examines Percival Everett’s satirical novel Erasure—about a black author whose own satirical novel is taken seriously—in light of recent literary identity shake-ups such as James Frey and Michael Derrick Hudson, who changed his name to Yi-Fen Chou to get a poem published:

This exposes a major flaw in artistic perception in publishing.

...more

Ragtime and the Mysterious Teenage Highlighter

By

At The Millions, Jacob Lambert shares a letter written to an unknown teenager who annotated and “ruined” his secondhand copy of Ragtime. Lambert expresses bewilderment over the passages that the teenager highlighted, and provides his own insights in response:

Chapter three ends with the sentence “And up through the slum alleys, through the gray clothes hanging listlessly on lines strung across air shafts, rose the smell of fried fish.” A highly evocative passage, seemingly straightforward enough.

...more

A Brief Relationship with Writing

By

At The Millions, Bryan VanDyke reflects on his experience writing several unpublished novels, and how these manuscripts helped motivate him to write the draft of his first published work in less than a week:

My grad school mentor, the brooding and kind-hearted author David Plante, would sometimes refer to unsuccessful books as “one more for the river.” As a student in his twenties with a chartless ocean of writing challenges ahead, this metaphor made me uneasy because I so desperately wanted to arrive somewhere with my work.

...more

How to Write Wilderness

By

At The Millions, Mary Catherine Martin responds to the flaws she found in Dave Eggers’s representation of the Alaskan wilderness in his most recent novel, Heroes of the Frontier. She explains why writers who “write wilderness” have a responsibility to understand the great outdoors before putting pen to paper:

If there’s anything wilderness can teach you, it’s the dizzying breadth of what you do not know, and if what you write is to resonate as true there is no lesson more important.

...more

The Desire for Distraction

By

For The Millions, Mike Broida revisits David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, arguing that the work’s claims about addiction and the media presaged the influence of “television culture” on the digital age:

The final “joke” of Infinite Jest is that the book is intended to be almost as endless and mirthful as the addictions it depicts.

...more

Writers Who Burn Their Own Work

By

We burn old love letters and photographs to be reborn. The action of burning is often a process. Find a match or a lighter. Put the papers in a container or can or shove them in a fireplace. There are so many moments along the way when we can have second thoughts, when we can decide to put memories in a drawer rather than reduce them to ash, but it is so tempting and comforting to watch the flames swallow our pain.

...more

Literary Cage Match

By

At The Millions, Jonathan Gottschall compares his experience learning to cage fight with the struggles of being a writer, as “the writing game, like the fighting game, mostly ends in breakage”:

Literary history is a history of victors. So stories about the struggles of well-known writers almost always follow the comforting arc of suffering redeemed.

...more

Unstuck in Time

By

Despite its uncanny salience in the context of this most recent wave of social injustice and protest, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout was written well before the #BlackLivesMatter movement began. Far from a coincidence, the book’s resonance is a product of the same paradox of time it describes, in which dated social conditions cannot possibly continue to exist, yet do:

All of the characters, regardless of how completely absurd they seem, are reacting to living in a time in which Beatty also resides; one in which he is daring to call something “‘Racism’ in a post-racial world.”

...more

A Bigger Wall

By

Yesterday, The Millions featured an exclusive “essay” from a certain Republican presidential hopeful about his plan to make Western literature great again:

We’re going to take back the Western canon, folks. We are going to build a big beautiful wall around books written by white people and we’re going to make the immigrants and the African-American writers pay for it.

...more

The Lexicon of Horror

By

At The Millions, Madeleine Monson-Rosen explores how the “lexicon of horror” influences novelist Victor LaValle’s thinking about “narrative and language.” In addition, the article discusses how LaValle’s most recent work, The Ballad of Black Tom, draws from H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Horror of Red Hook” for inspiration.

...more

A Stand-In for New and Difficult Thinking

By

Clichés are tempting because they do the work of communicating for us. In a manifesto against workshop jargon, Helen Betya Rubinstein warns us of the dangers of sticking to old models:

…because you’d have to remember all the way back to the first time you heard this cliché against clichés to actually see, once again, that clichés are ineffective because they prevent you from seeing.

...more

Startling Places

By

For the New York Times, Lydia Kiesling reflects on Sara Majka’s debut collection, Cities I’ve Never Lived In:

I assumed right away that I knew exactly what kind of book this would be: a book about arty people with complicated personal lives, who use the word “lover” and contemplate wintry landscapes from lonely trains… But ­Majka brings the reader to startling places.

...more

The Danger in Neat Identifications

By

For The MillionsEdan Lepucki interviews novelist Dana Spiotta about her latest release Innocents and Others. In addition to exploring the process that went into writing the novel, the two discuss how to construct narrative by trusting instinct and intuition:

It has a lot to do with intuition, and what you find interesting as you are writing, I think.

...more