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Posts Tagged: The Millions

The Golden Age of Second Novels

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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.

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A 21st Century Kind of Poet

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At The Millions, Michael Bourne writes about the stunning success of poet Tess Taylor’s debut collection, The Forage House, and technology’s hand in making it happen:

When writers talk about literature in the digital age, they tend to lay out one nightmare scenario after another: books losing value as they migrate onto screens, publishing houses shedding jobs, readers snuggling up with cable shows on their iPads rather than books.

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The Best Stories Leave an Aftertaste

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In her deeply personal essay on The Millions, Allison K. Gibson explains some of the intense literary cravings she experienced during her pregnancy. Some of them were unexpected, even violent, but all were led entirely by intuition.

“Now I had a voracious appetite to consume certain books I’d read long ago, revisiting passages that had always been especially moving.

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All Roads Lead to Writing

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Over at The Millions, Rumpus contributor Nick Ripatrazone looks at the many and varied paths that bring writers to the profession and considers the benefits of time spent studying subjects other than creative writing:

Although I have drifted toward the science of syntax, I think about the positives of studying content that is not literary.

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Break the Rules

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You’ve heard the rules of writing before. You probably know them well enough to recite “a litany as deeply embedded as the Lord’s Prayer.”

Show, don’t tell. Write what you know. The first sentence is key. The last sentence is key… You should never write in the second person.

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The Obsessive, Nerdy Joys of Copyediting

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This conversation at the Millions between Edan Lepucki and her copyeditor Susan Bradanini Betz is a beautiful paean to the editing process—and enlightening for anyone who wonders what precisely a copyeditor does.

Lepucki and Betz discuss author/editor compatibility, obsessive style sheets, and Donna Tartt’s anti-copyediting broadside.

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When Grammar Becomes Dangerous

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Those who are careful about their grammar run the risk of seeming pretentious. Strict adherence to grammar rules is sometimes written off as stuffy and elitist. There is a greater danger, however, in falling into the trap of being careless with language, or so Fiona Maazel writes in a piece called “Commercial Grammar.”

Imprecision allows you to say one thing when you really mean another…

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A Young Holden Caulfield

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Last month, three of J.D. Salinger’s unpublished stories were leaked. One of these stories, “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls,” includes a young Holden Caulfield, and describes his brother’s death, “an incident only alluded to in the novel.”

In an essay featured by The Millions, Ian Rogers discusses the importance of respecting Salinger’s wishes to view “The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls” as an experiment rather than a prequel to The Catcher in the Rye.

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Lit-Mags in Pop Culture

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“Does anybody outside of our circle care?” asks The Millions’ Nick Ripatrazone in a post about literary magazines. “What is the wider cultural influence of literary magazines?”

To try to figure it out, he looks at pop-culture depictions of lit-mags, from a George Plimpton cameo on The Simpsons to a whole episode of Cheers about submitting—and then receiving rejection letters for—poetry.

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Steinitz’s Sense of Smell

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If you can’t describe the color red to someone born blind, here are some scents you can’t describe to someone born anosmic, or without a sense of smell: “feet, chalk, lilacs, gardenias, sour milk, rain, new cars, Chanel No. 5, Old Spice, greasepaint, [and] napalm.”

In a strangely fascinating essay at The Millions, Rebecca Steinitz describes what it’s like believing for years that smells are a poetic fiction invented for books—and how lacking this particular sense may somehow make her a better editor.

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