At the end of last month, Nicholas Kristof published a piece in the New York Times calling for academics to come out from their insular bubble and participate in the mainstream conversation—especially with respect to writing. Joshua Rothman responded in the New Yorker that academic writing is only as “knotty and strange, remote and insular, technical and specialized, forbidding and clannish” as the academy itself....more
Posts Tagged: the new yorker
Gordon Lish, acclaimed writer, editor, and teacher, is renowned for giving fiction writers the following advice: tell your worst secret. Lish encourages writers to put themselves at risk, first making themselves emotionally vulnerable, and then restoring themselves. Through dramatized confessions, Lish hopes that students will capture their readers’ attention; writing, in this case, is viewed as a constant attempt to seduce readers while staving off boredom....more
You know that feeling when you discover an author that completely changes your life? Jon Michaud does. He writers over at The New Yorker about discovering the sole work of Breece D’J Pancake.
“These bleak qualities may make Pancake’s stories timely, but it is their compressed artistry and distilled feeling that make them timeless.
In The New Yorker this week, George Packer covers what sounds like a battle between serf states but is actually the heated war between Amazon, Apple and the Big 6 publishers. He gives us the low-down on Amazon’s tumultuous foray into online publishing and their monopoly on the ebook industry....more
In a breathtaking essay on aging, Roger Angell reflects on death. At the age of 93, he writes: ”A weariness about death exists in me and in us all in another way, as well, though we scarcely notice it.”
Angell has experienced his share of loss and hardship, but emphasizes the dailiness of his own experience, and how infrequently he thinks of his own impending visitor: death....more
…“grew up in world (S.C.) that wouldn’t accept him,” “needs adulation,” “doesn’t sleep,” was “scarred for life.”…“What’s motivating Hayes?—basic question.”
An actor’s notes for a role? A writer’s sketch of a character for a novel? Actually, these are observations by the communications manager of agribusiness giant Syngenta, as she and her colleagues try to figure out how to discredit the scientist who found one of their herbicides to cause “birth defects in humans as well as in animals.”
For the New Yorker, Rachel Aviv tells the story of the corporation’s relentless campaign against one biology professor—and his increasingly desperate attempts to fight back....more
Supporters of African LGBT rights were so relieved about Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni’s veto of an anti-gay bill that they were nearly blindsided when Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan’s signed a similar bill into law.
The law prompted Binyavanga Wainaina, a prominent Kenyan author who also spends a lot of time in Lagos, Nigeria’s capital, to share something his wide readership did not know: he is gay....more
Thomas Wolfe once wrote, “You can’t go home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame…” Through a series of autobiographical novels, author Karl Ove Knausgaard does manage to revisit his hometown, his youth, and his early loves....more
It is possible to give one’s life to books, to dedicate years to collecting, reading, teaching, translating, writing, and studying them. In an essay for the New Yorker, Thomas E. Kennedy, a writer, editor, translator, and professor, reflects on his own experience of leading a life “decided by books,” the result of being given a book that reeled him in when he was still at “a susceptible age.”
Kennedy writes: “You wonder whether you actually love books or are merely addicted to them, obsessed by them.”
By the end of Kenendy’s essay, it remains unclear whether an obsession with collecting books is a good or a bad thing....more
Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones), known for his poems, plays, and for the initiation of the Black Arts Movement, died on January 9th. Though there have been many articles talking about the man as legend, over at The New Yorker, Hilton Als discusses the man as human through the lens of Als’ personal relationships with various members of the Jones family....more
You’ve probably seen this regional-dialect quiz from the New York Times making the rounds on your social networks. You answer questions about your vocabulary and pronunciation, and it tries to determine where in the United States you’re from.
But the New Yorker‘s Shouts & Murmurs blog is really upping the ante with their own dialect quiz, which asks questions like “What do you call sweetened carbonated beverages?” Do you use “soda,” “pop,” or “Coke”?...more
2013 has become the year of the emoji as the pictographs have made their way into iMessages, poem translations, and recently, an art exhibition. Betsy Morais’ article called “Do You Speak Emoji?” refers to emojis as “a new form of language that is, by turns, keenly expressive and cheerfully cryptic.”
The reasons for using images of shooting stars, thumbs up, and hearts instead of words to convey meaning might be difficult to understand at first, but as Morais writes, “when language poses a risk, employ a playful image whose interpretation may be negotiated upon receipt.”...more
In a recent essay in The New Yorker, Lydia Davis discusses the very short stories of Osama Alomar, a young Syrian writer who has lived in the United States for the past five years.
The plight of a writer who has an established reputation in his own country, and none at all here in his adopted country is a plight shared, of course, with immigrants of other professions… It involves a profoundly disturbing change of identity in his new world, and often in his own eyes.
Tom Scocca, features editor at Gawker takes on the “newest weapon in the arsenal of privileged” in his recent essay. In response, Malcolm Gladwell writers over at The New Yorker that Being Nice Isn’t Really So Aweful:
In being nice to the world, the writer obliges the world to be nice to him.
Matters of gender and sexuality come to the surface repeatedly in the scuffles discussed in The New Yorker piece called “Literary Feuds of 2013.” In the past year, there have been debates over the double standard to which the personalities of female protagonists are held, criticism of a female writer’s novel as being “too macho,” and an article promoting the idea that mothering more than one child can be detrimental to the work of female writers....more
In the New Yorker, Lee Siegel sheds light on the oft-seen contradiction between artists and their art in her review of Deborah Solomon’s biography “American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell.”
In contrast to his idealized paintings of happy hetero Americans, Rockwell is described as a depressed, compulsively obsessive, and “a repressed homosexual.”
You might call this condition of artistic creation the law of opposites, which can be a displacement of identity, as in the case of the gay composers and actors of yesteryear, or a transmutation of identity.
A few weeks before Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita came out, the New Yorker published a short story about a man consorting with a young woman named Lolita instead of her mother—but this story was by Dorothy Parker, whose career was entering its last-gasp phase....more
After finding a paperback novel strewn on an airport bench with the note: “To whomever finds this book—please read it, take it somewhere, and leave it for someone else to find it” written inside, J.J. Abrams became fascinated with the “romantic idea that you could leave a book with a message for someone.”
Abrams partnered with Doug Dorst to produce “S,” a novel that includes the notes of two readers in the margins, as well as postcards, photographs, letters, newspaper clippings, and a map written on a napkin from a coffee shop....more
In the New Yorker, Ben Tarnoff reviews Volume II of the Autobiography of Mark Twain.
Notorious for his ability to talk a blue streak, Twain dictated the entire three-volume tome of over 5000 typewritten pages while lying in bed awaiting, it would seem, his own demise....more
It seems counterintuitive to say the least, but there were 100 takes filmed of the love-at-first-sight scene in Blue Is the Warmest Color, the French film that has garnered attention for its 10-minute lesbian sex scene, an epic length for movie standards. The result is a striking physical moment when the actresses’ eyes lock....more
John Williams’ Stoner has unexpectedly become a bestseller in Europe, but the work remains largely unknown in its own country. In “The Greatest American Novel You’ve Never Heard Of,” New Yorker contributor Tim Kreider explores the reasons why Williams has been “consigned to that unenviable category inhabited by such august company as Richard Yates and James Salter: the writer’s writer.”
Stoner is undeniably a great book, but I can also understand why it isn’t a sentimental favorite in its native land.
Guernica has a lengthy excerpt up from White Girls, the genre-warping new collection of cultural criticism, personal memoir, and who knows what else by the New Yorker‘s Hilton Als.
It’s complex, challenging, and completely, enthrallingly beautiful, so it’s impossible to choose just one quote to represent it, but here’s an attempt:
We were something dark and unforeseen: two colored gentlemen who moved through the largely white social world we inhabited in New York (the world where art and fashion and journalism converged) who did not exploit each other or our obvious physical traits…for political sympathy or social gain.
The professorial dictum has always been to write what you know, but I say write what you don’t know and find something out.
In his recent essay featured in The New Yorker, writer T. Coraghessan Boyle discusses the act of story writing as “an exercise of the imagination.”
I don’t know what a story will be until it begins to unfold, the whole coming to me in the act of composition as a kind of waking dream…