Why do we love fiction? The New York Times examines the links between science and literature: “It’s not that evolution gives us insight into fiction … but that fiction gives us insight into evolution.”
Susannah Hunnewell interviews Michel Houellebecq, France’s controversial literary icon, for The Paris Review's "The Art of Fiction" series: “There is a need for intensity. From time to time, you have to forsake harmony. You even have to forsake truth. You have to, when you need to, energetically embrace excessive things.”
Want to make your writing shorter? Revise more. At The New York Times, Danny Heitman discusses the art of brevity. "Like passengers in a lifeboat, all the words in a concise text must pull their own weight." Pair with: Our own Edan Lepucki's essay on the challenges and benefits of brevity.
"Dear Mrs D, Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do — it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff." Over at McSweeney's, Nick Hornby advises his son on excuses for failing to hand in his English homework, excuses which Hornby learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film.
In his latest Year in Reading, Chigozie Obioma told us about Eka Kurniawan’s Beauty Is a Wound, “the howling masterpiece of 2015...a howl, an outrage, and a sheer burst of particular talent.” In an illuminating interview for Electric Literature, Kurniawan discusses the label “magic realism,” epic creation, and his ideas for his next novel.
"Chris Lloyd adores a minuet / the Ballets Russes and crepes suzettes / but Foucault loves to rock n' roll / a hot dog makes him lose control... what a crazy pair!"James Yeh and a plate of Korean barbecue co-star in: My Dinner with Shteyngart.Deborah Eisenberg reads Wells Tower.Open Letters Monthly looks at Landscape in Concrete, a lost classic from the World War II-era featuring a not-so-ÜbermenschWhat planet are translators from? Paul Verhaeghen spills the beans, in remarks from the PEN festival, (via Three percent)Novelist David Francis, guest-posting at TEV, pits the writer's interests against those of the publishing industry.W.W. Norton "friends" the Dalkey Archive.Richard Ford tells Nam Le, "Giving a colleague a bad review is like . . . seeing a hitchhiker and rather than picking the hitchhiker up, you run over him."The Second Pass reappraises Denis Johnson's 1983 Angels (whose characters reappear in Tree of Smoke).Finally, a piece on Reif Larsen's T.S. Spivet that doesn't mention the size of his advance.After only a year, Wyatt Mason's fine Sentences blog reaches a full stop.An amazing and cute fashion blog from a 13-year-old.The indie bookstore tour writ large: novelist Mark Fitten is visiting 100 indie bookstores and writing about it. (via Maud)Wikipedia find of the week: The Jimmy Carter rabbit incident