The China Daily has an article today criticizing corrupt Chinese officials for signing lucrative book deals in prison. They must not know that some of the world’s most influential works of philosophy and fiction were written in the slammer.
If your default mood hovers between melancholy and despair, you may be cheered (or at least made a bit less glum) by this argument that striving for happiness is bad for us in the long run. Mari Ruti makes the case that a “happy, balanced life” depends in large part on a kind of emotional numbness.
Masha Gessen (who recently agreed to write a book on the Boston bombers) told a journalist in New Zealand she’s “probably” moving out of Russia. Why? “It’s one thing to bring up your kids in a place that’s risky and difficult; I think in many ways it’s enriching them, and I’m glad my kids have that experience,” she said. “It’s another thing to bring up your kids in a place that’s hopeless. “
“Define your character’s obsession. Take that obsession and dig up all the language that surrounds it or alludes to it. Rewrite your story using as much of that language as possible.” Molly Prentiss for Amazon Author Insights on using personal preoccupations to bring your narratives to life.
Lord Byron is perhaps our most prominent example of an extravagant writer in a bygone age. There’s a reason his antics earned him a popular adjective. However, he’s not the only writer from long ago to live large, as made clear in this New Yorker piece by Elizabeth Kolbert — inspired by the release of two new biographies — that deals with the up-and-down life and reputation of Seneca. Sample quote: “Seneca’s fortune made possible a life style that was lavish by Roman or, for that matter, Hollywood standards.”
Geoff Dyer endorses Ben Lerner’s Leaving the Atocha Station , John Jeremiah Sullivan’s Pulphead –our own Bill Morris loves it too!–and a generalized aversion toward seafood in his interview with Morten Høi Jensen for Book Forum. While they ostensibly met to talk about Zona–reviewed on The Millions here–it’s perhaps unsurprising that they managed to digress so liberally: “we chatted about his review of Richard Bradford’s Martin Amis: the Biography, and by the end he was giving me advice about which David Markson book I should read first. Our interview, in other words, assumed the shape of a Geoff Dyer book.”