Years With Yoko. For a long time Ono was basically despised, the inevitable lot of someone married to a person whose fame actually may have eclipsed Christ’s. Fools hate foreigners, and fools hate women, but a lot of people who ought to know better hate the avant-garde, and a lot of people who ought to know better hate the politically engaged, and a lot of people who ought to know better hate polymaths, and Ono is all those things. (SLTheMillions) [more inside]
There’s a dirty secret tucked away in Thomas Pynchon’s novels, and it’s this: beyond all the postmodernism and paranoia, the anarchism and socialism, the investigations into global power, the forays into labor politics and feminism and critical race theory, the rocket science, the fourth-dimensional mathematics, the philatelic conspiracies, the ’60s radicalism and everything else that has spawned 70 or 80 monographs, probably twice as many dissertations, and hundreds if not thousands of scholarly essays, his novels are full of cheesy love stories. [SLTM]
The Great 2016 Book Preview [The Millions]
We think it’s safe to say last year was a big year for the book world. In addition to new titles by Harper Lee, Jonathan Franzen, and Lauren Groff, we got novels by Ottessa Moshfegh, Claire Vaye Watkins, and our own Garth Risk Hallberg. At this early stage, it already seems evident this year will keep up the pace. There’s a new Elizabeth Strout book, for one, and a new Annie Proulx; new novels by Don DeLillo, Curtis Sittenfeld, Richard Russo and Yann Martel; and much-hyped debut novels by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney and Callan Wink. There’s also a new book by Alexander Chee, and a new translation of Nobel Prize-winner Herta Müller. The books previewed here are all fiction. A non-fiction preview will follow next week. While there’s no such thing as a list that has everything, we feel certain this preview — at 8,600 words and 93 titles — is the only 2016 book preview you’ll need.[more inside]
You’ve decided on a life of letters. You’ve got that manuscript you workshopped getting your MFA, an agent, and a publisher. Congratulations! You’re well on your way to being a critical darling. Now all you need is a catchy title. Lucky for you, this handy guide will help you title your book, and every book you write in your illustrious career. Janet Potter (previously) at The Millions (previously)
Think of the ways we talk about manliness: as making necessary sacrifices, doing what needs to be done, choosing the ugly truth over the pretty lie. In all of those definitions, we're still just talking about being good, brave, responsible. And if that's what we mean by manliness, then we have to acknowledge the fact that women are now — and always have been — as good at it as men are. Which, in turn, means that men can, and ought to, learn manliness from women.Franklin Strong for The Millions: The Manliness of Joan Didion. [more inside]
Most Anticipated: The Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview [The Millions]
If you like to read, we’ve got some news for you. The second-half of 2015 is straight-up, stunningly chock-full of amazing books. The list that follows isn’t exhaustive — no book preview could be — but, at 9,100 words strong and encompassing 82 titles, this is the only second-half 2015 book preview you will ever need. Scroll down and get started.[more inside]
As with anything in this world, excess is excess, but inadequate is inadequate. A writer must know when the weight of the words used to describe a scene is bearing down on the scene itself. A writer should develop the measuring tape to know when to describe characters' thoughts in long sentences and when not to. But a writer, above all, should aim to achieve artistry with language which, like the painter, is the only canvas we have. Writers should realize that the novels that are remembered, that become monuments, would in fact be those which err on the side of audacious prose, that occasionally allow excess rather than those which package a story — no matter how affecting — in inadequate prose.Chigozie Obioma for The Millions: The Audacity of Prose.
What you do when apartment hunting online, and what a lot of people do, I imagine, is you plug in your preferred neighborhood/price range/amenities/etc., and then out pops a long list of results that you further refine by imagining a very specific and very fictionalized narrative involving a version of yourself that isn’t necessarily true right now but could be true if you lived in apartment X. No, you’ve never wielded a wrench for any longer than the time it takes to pass it to your dad, but why couldn’t you fix a fixer-upper? Or be the kind of person to share one bathroom with six other roommates? Or live with a Ukrainian family that’s gone for five months out of the year, but whose kids you’re expected to babysit as per your new rental agreement?
"Childhood, as I knew it, was rife with secrecy and weirdness, with actions that made sense to you but not anybody else. It’s no wonder that I fell in love with Moomin." Alex Ohlin writes about Tove Jansson and Moomin, for The Millions. [more inside]
I hesitate to call what follows "advice," though it might seem as such. There are so many varied experiences during a single teaching day that I am much more comfortable thinking in epigrammatic terms. I have a lot more to say about teaching, and certain reflections will need to wait. But, for now, here are 55 thoughts about teaching English.
"I purchased and read [Dan Brown's] Inferno, which was inscrutable and interminable, and as I read I scribbled in its margins. When I finished, my friend David Rees, the artisanal pencil sharpener, asked if he could borrow it. He added his thoughts. It was fun to see someone else’s words next to mine. I wrote in black pen, in cursive. David wrote in red pencil, in block letters. I was semi-serious. David swore and told a lot of jokes. Usually we agreed, but occasionally we disagreed. Here are some of the highlights." [via The Millions]
The Millions has finished its Year In Reading for 2013. Sixty-eight people, including Metafilter's own Stephen Dodson, write about the books they read in 2013. Highlights include Choire Sicha, editor at The Awl, Sergio de la Pava, who wrote A Naked Singularity, and Rachel Kushner, who wrote The Flamethrowers. Full list here.
"'Personally, I think it’s slightly sad how easy it was to get,' Jessica says, referring to the building. She brightens. 'But everyone at Chipotle was really excited to get this spot because of the history, the chance to be a part of Boston’s history. This is the oldest retail location in Boston.'" (via)
I find it almost impossible to finish cataloging. I spend days away from the fourth floor, ruminating over things I’ve read and unable to return to my place in the pages. I read things that really piss me off. I read things that frighten me. I read things that delight every bone in my body. When I’m working on it, I feel as though I’ve gone underwater. One day I forget to leave at five. The clock on the fourth floor has stopped at some point while I’ve been working. When I finally get up I find the elevator has been locked. Jenn Shapland is cataloging the archive> for David Foster Wallace's The Pale King.
"Citizenship is a tough occupation which obliges the citizen to make his own informed opinion and stand by it."
'The Hubris and Despair of War Journalism: What Martha Gellhorn teaches us about the morality of contemporary war reportage.' [more inside]
On The Road, On The Screen: 'A large part of On The Road’s powerful and ongoing appeal undoubtedly stems from the lyricism of its language -- as opposed to its linearity, or even narrative coherence. Translating this to the screen could quite simply be impossible. Indeed, one suspects it is the reason that, up till now, so many screenwriters have failed in turning Kerouac’s text into visual form.'
The Millions, online since 2003, is a book blog of exceptional breadth and depth, and "an independent literature and culture publication that pays its writers." Until recently, that breadth and depth was hard to fathom, as the site had outgrown its infrastructure. Now, however, its excellent features are easy to find, as are series like The Future of the Book, Ask a Book Question, and The Millions Interview. Superb reviews can be found as they happen or in the Book Review Index, and, a vestige of when The Millions was a one man operation, you can find out what C. Max Magee, founder of The Millions, is reading on the Book Lists page. [more inside]