Posts Tagged: The Millions

A Stand-In for New and Difficult Thinking

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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.

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Startling Places

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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.

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The Danger in Neat Identifications

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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.

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The “Wow” Factor

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For The Millions, editor Gerald Howard reflects on his search for manuscripts that “wow.” In addition, Howard explains how books like Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain helped to cultivate his interest in publishing, and explores how the subject matter of literature has changed over time:

We’ve traveled a long, long way from the storied four-decade publishing association of Alfred Knopf with Thomas Mann, nostalgia for which is a fairly useless emotion in our Godzilla vs.

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Kids Books All Grown-Up

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…like Franzen’s novels, the Berenstain Bear books might meander, reveling in details alternately informative and irrelevant, but ultimately they’re straightforward tales about family. (Also, as a friend pointed out to me recently, JFran sort of looks like a Berenstain Bear. This can’t be coincidental.)

At The Millions, Edan Lepucki compares children’s books to their grown-up counterparts.

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Joyce’s Forgotten Rival

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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.

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Read All These

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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.)

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Marginalized

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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.

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Cutting a Long Story Short

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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.

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Adventures Are Overrated

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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.

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Lisbon: A City in Amber

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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. 

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Does Music “Unleash Latent Genius”?

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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.

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Judging the Judges

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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.

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