Harold and the Purple Crayon is a classic children’s book. Is it also a writing guide? In an essay for Bookslut, Mairead Case explains why she re-reads it whenever she’s finishing a project: the main character’s need to create a room for himself is a corollary to the writing process.
Andrew Ervin interviewed Matt Bell for Tin House. Bell’s forthcoming novel In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and Woods will come out this summer. (Excerpt) It’s a book that was at least partially enhanced by Bell’s sense of “competition … of a useful kind” with his friend Robert Kloss. “I was so blown away [by Alligators of Abraham],” Bell admits, “that I can remember having to resist putting down his first novel to go make mine better.”
"Storytelling is an indispensable human preoccupation, as important to us all—almost—as breathing. From the mythical campfire tale to its explosion in the post-television age, it dominates our lives. It behooves us then to try and understand it." On the inherent sameness of stories with John Yorke from The Atlantic.
New this week: Tupelo Hassman's debut Girlchild, a pair of novels -- Angel and A Game of Hide and Seek -- by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress) from NYRB Classics featuring introductions by Hilary Mantel and Caleb Crain, Self-Portrait of an Other, prose poems by Cees Nooteboom, and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, a new poetry collection from D.A. Powell.
What happens when a grown woman wears a ton of Axe body spray? The question is nightmare fuel, but Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick -- in what can only be described as a heroic act of journalism -- doused herself in America’s most notorious fragrance for a week to see how it felt.
Shakespeare was an insult master, as were Churchill, Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde and… Cézanne? Apparently so. In The Irish Times, Colm Tóibín reads through the painter’s letters, one of which includes a gripe that “Pissarro is an old fool [and] Monet is a wily bird.” (You could also read Claire Cameron's Millions review of Tóibín’s latest novel.)
At the Philadelphia Inquirer, neurologists look at cases where serious brain injury has actually brought about higher levels of creativity in artists, particularly where linguistic ability is harmed. “Language is the bully of the brain," [one neurologist] says. "It takes up its own space and if something else gets crowded out, too bad." (via Book Bench)