The Mysterious, Anonymous Author Elena Ferrante on the Conclusion of Her Neapolitan Novels [Vanity Fair]
Passions run high when you’re talking about Elena Ferrante and her work, particularly her sensational, highly addictive Neapolitan novels, which paint a portrait of a consuming female friendship against the backdrop of social and political upheaval in Italy from the 1950s to the present day. My Brilliant Friend,The Story of a New Name, and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay have made Ferrante, an enigmatic figure who writes under a pseudonym, and is widely regarded as the best contemporary novelist you’ve never heard of, a worldwide sensation.[more inside]
Can a Novelist Be Too Productive? by Stephen King [New York Times] [Op-Ed]
“No one in his or her right mind would argue that quantity guarantees quality, but to suggest that quantity never produces quality strikes me as snobbish, inane and demonstrably untrue.”
The Role of Writers in a STEM Obsessed Society
“As writers, it’s easy to think of how we matter to literature classrooms, but what the appointment of writers-in-residence in hospitals, history classrooms, foreign language learning spaces, and cooking schools reminds us is that we are relevant wherever there is humanity—which is to say, wherever humans are with their stories. Writing is healing. Writing is art. Writing is learning. As such, writing across the disciplines matters. Many models of artist residencies depend upon the retreat model, wherein the artist sequesters herself away with a small community of other artists. While these models have value, especially when considering how solitude relates to the creative process, it’s heartening to me to see more models catch on that value the place of the writer in society, rather than hidden away from it.”
From Steinbeck to Cervantes: Confessing Our Literary Gaps by Sarah Galo, Elon Green [Hazlitt] Authors, journalists, and assorted literary stalwarts tell us why they’ve missed the famous books they’ve missed. [more inside]
Juan Felipe Herrera, From Farm Fields to Poet Laureate [New York Times]
The Library of Congress announced on Wednesday that Juan Felipe Herrera, a son of migrant farmworkers whose writing fuses wide-ranging experimentalism with reflections on Mexican-American identity, will be the next poet laureate. The appointment of Mr. Herrera, who will succeed Charles Wright, comes as the country is debating immigration, a recurring subject of his work, which has been collected in books like “Border-Crosser With a Lamborghini Dream” and “187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border.”[more inside]
From plitter to drabbletail: a few writers choose the words they love. [The Guardian] [Books]
Dialect terms such as yokeymajig or whiffle-whaffle; all-time favourites like cochineal, clot or eschew; antiquated phrases such as ‘playing the giddy ox’ … leading writers on the words they cherish.[more inside]
Ruth Rendell, crime writer, dies aged 85. [The Guardian]
Ruth Rendell, one of Britain’s best-loved authors, who delighted fans for decades with her dark, intricately plotted crime novels, has died at the age of 85, her publisher has announced.[more inside]
The death of writing – if James Joyce were alive today he’d be working for Google: [Guardian Books]
There’s hardly an instant of our lives that isn’t electronically documented. These days, it is software that maps our new experiences, our values and beliefs. How should a writer respond? Tom McCarthy on fiction in the age of data saturation.
The Struggle To Be A Good Critic [Electric Literature] How should or shouldn't white writers write POC characters?
Don't Judge A Book By Its Author by Aminatta Forna [The Guardian]
‘I have never met a writer who wishes to be described as a female writer, gay writer, black writer, Asian writer or African writer’ … Aminatta Forna on her frustration at the book world’s obsession with labels and identity.
Letter from Ernest Hemingway’s widow could solve Cuban farmhouse mystery. [The Guardian]
The mystery of whether Ernest Hemingway’s widow volunteered or was coerced into leaving their Cuban house to the nation has come a step closer to being solved, with the discovery of a letter in which she states that her late husband “would be pleased” that Finca Vigía be “given to the people of Cuba … as a centre for opportunities for wider education and research”.[more inside]
Closing a Chapter of a Literary Life [New York Times] Ahead of the American publication of his latest work, “The Book of Strange New Things,” Michel Faber discusses it and why it will be his last novel.
Lydia Davis on Madame Bovary, Nabokov's Marginalia, and Translation: [YouTube] In this video from the Center for the Art of Translation, author and translator Lydia Davis discusses how she used Nabokov's margin notes from his edition of Madame Bovary to aid her own translation. She also discusses in-depth translation choices that she made. A full audio recording of this event can be hard on the Center's website.
Ian McEwan: the law versus religious belief. [The Guardian]
The conjoined twins who would die without medical intervention, a boy who refused blood transfusions on religious grounds…Ian McEwan on the stories from the family courts that inspired his latest novel.[more inside]
The Pale King drafts: The David Foster Wallace archive at the Harry Ransom Center UT has made some documents from The Pale King accessible online, including a few pages of his workbook, handwritten drafts, and typed edits. [more inside]
A Memoir Is Not a Status Update by Dani Shapiro [The New Yorker] "What would have become of me if I had come of age as a writer during these years of living out loud?"
The Teen Whisperer by Margaret Talbot [New Yorker] How the author [John Green] of “The Fault in Our Stars” built an ardent army of fans.
Creative writing professor Hanif Kureishi says such courses are 'a waste of time' [The Guardian]
Buddha of Suburbia author, who teaches subject at Kingston University, added that many of his students could 'write sentences' but not tell stories.
First editions, second thoughts. [The Guardian] "Interactive: From Amsterdam to Wolf Hall, Booker winners and bestsellers – authors annotate their own first editions.
Claire Messud: “A woman’s rant” [National Post] "Over the last week, discussion surrounding Claire Messud’s new novel, The Woman Upstairs, has shifted from the book to an interview its author recently gave to Publishers Weekly, in which Messud took issue with the following question: “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.” [more inside]
My Psychic Garburator by Margaret Atwood [The New York Review of Books]
"Most dreams of writers aren’t about dead people or writing, and—like everyone else’s dreams—they aren’t very memorable. They just seem to be the products of a psychic garburator chewing through the potato peels and coffee grounds of the day and burping them up to you as mush."[more inside]
STREET OF THE IRON PO(E)T, A Paris Diary by Henri Cole: "Today I visited the cenotaph to Baudelaire..." Part 2. Part 3. Part 4. Part 5. Part 6.
Marcel Proust’s First Poem, ‘Pederasty,’ [Daily Beast] "Here is the first known poem by Proust, written when he was 17, that shows him struggling with his homosexual urges. The poem is dedicated to his friend Daniel Halévy, and he wrote to him in a letter: “Don’t treat me as a pederast, that wounds me. Morally I’m trying, if only out of a sense of elegance, to remain pure.” The poem is titled “Pederasty.”" [more inside]
Proudly Fraudulent: [The Awl] An Interview With MoMA's First Poet Laureate, Kenneth Goldsmith. [Previously] [Previously]
Happy Thomas Pynchon rumor day! [LAtimes.com] "What's that, you say? America's most reclusive author, Thomas Pynchon, appeared in the news Friday -- not once but twice? Why, yes, yes, he has, surfacing in two unconnected rumours. Conspiracy? Pynchonian? Maybe we should henceforth designate Jan. 4 as Thomas Pynchon Rumor Day." [more inside]
"At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said, ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ It’s exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.” [The New Yorker] "The writer Philip Roth announced his retirement in a little-noticed interview with a French magazine [Les Inrocks] and said that Nemesis, which was published in 2010, would be his last book."
INTERVIEWER: "Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?" HEMINGWAY: "Getting the words right."
To Use and Use Not: [NYTimes.com] "In an interview in The Paris Review in 1958 Ernest Hemingway made an admission that has inspired frustrated novelists ever since: The final words of “A Farewell to Arms,” his wartime masterpiece, were rewritten “39 times before I was satisfied.” A new edition of “A Farewell to Arms,” which was originally published in 1929, will be released next week, including all the alternate endings, along with early drafts of other passages in the book."
The Hemingway Papers: The legendary writer’s reporting from the Toronto Star archives, featuring historical annotations by William McGeary, a former editor who researched Hemingway’s columns extensively for the newspaper, along with new insight and analysis from the Star’s team of Hemingway experts.
David Foster Wallace Writes to Don DeLillo: Among the many curiosities of this correspondence: “No offense intended” by the card’s image (a book cover from Sheldon Lord’s A Woman Must Love), the mention of Jonathan Franzen’s New Yorker piece on William Gaddis, the brick shithouse of a palm tree, and a request to eyeball DeLillo’s “new novel” (Cosmopolis?). So many of the sentences create space for wondering what more there is to know. [Via: The Outlet] [more inside]
"Your sentences are so long," [L.A.Times] The point of the long and winding sentence - Pico Iyer’s essay on why he’s made the conscious decision to write longer sentences.
"The blonde hadn't showed. She was smarter than I thought. I went outside to poison myself, with cigarettes and whisky."
Reader, I marinated it. [independent.co.uk] What if Virginia Woolf, Geoffrey Chaucer or Raymond Chandler had turned their talents to food writing? Mark Crick imagines the contents of the celebrity cookbooks of yesteryear.
"Even if you ignore the embarrassing ceremony and clichéd platitudes, few of these awards actually reflected genuine quality or what is happening in mainstream genre publishing today."
British Fantasy Award winner returns prize; Sam Stone hands back award after criticism of judging process. [The Guardian] "Controversy has riven the 40-year-old British Fantasy Awards, with the winner of the best novel prize handing her award back just three days after it was bestowed. But the organisation and presentation of the awards has been drawing criticism since then, culminating in Sam Stone, the winner of the best novel award – named after American writer and editor August Derleth – announcing yesterday that she is giving it back. The biggest attack on the awards was delivered by editor and anthologist Stephen Jones, who on Tuesday posted a lengthy blog decrying the organisation of the BFAs and making several allegations against awards co-ordinator and British Fantasy Society chairman David Howe."
"Or don't you like to write letters. I do because it's such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you've done something." ~Ernest Hemingway
Post A Letter Social Activity Club: "Imagine a day when every personal e-mail you receive is in the form of a piece of mail, in envelopes of different sizes, papers of different colours and textures, handwriting of varying degrees of legibility. Wouldn’t that be pretty nice for a change?" [more inside]
Past, I'd like to introduce you to the present. "Letters Home relies on contributions. We are nothing without readers who are willing to share their stories or respond to others. We don’t think we’re alone in wondering what’s happened to our childhood homes since we left. Or in wanting to share an important event that occurred there – from a birthday party to a marriage proposal, a secret revealed to a lie concealed. Write a letter to the present occupant (even if it’s still family), the owner of the store that now stands on that lot, whatever or whoever might be there now, and share your memory. Ask them to respond with their own story and photo. Their letter and photo will then be added to your post." How Letters Home works?