PEN World Voices, the great annual festival of International Literature, unveils this year’s lineup for the week of April 26, in New York and elsewhere. Highlights include Norman Rush, Patti Smith, László Krasznahorkai, Rodrigo Frésan, and Sherman Alexie‘s “Freedom to Write” lecture.
If you’re struggling with your writing, turn to biographies of famous authors. This is Tom Perrotta’s cure for writer’s block. “It’s inspiring to read about a flawed human being who struggled with his or her demons and afflictions, experienced paralyzing episodes of failure or self-doubt, but somehow managed to do the work anyway, and produce something that enriched the world. That’s my version of self-help,” he said in a New York Times “By the Book” interview.
In 1979, William Gaddis taught a course at Bard College on “The Literature of Failure,” examining works that somehow focused on personal failure or insufficiency. These included, among other books, Joan Didion’s Play It as It Lays, as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. In Bookforum, Casey Michael Henry takes on a related genre: the literature of obsolescence. You could also read James Cappio on meeting Gaddis in person.
The coming-of-age novel is a lot older than most of its protagonists. Gabriel Roth and sometime Millions contributor Kristopher Jansma will discuss the history of the genre at 7 p.m. on Monday, October 28 at the Center for Fiction in New York City. You can read Jansma’s past Millions essays on watching The Killing and searching for lost J.D. Salinger stories.