Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction’s Why Fiction Matters series. “The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed.” Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
The weird and fascinating history of books used in swearing-in ceremonies gets its latest entry: the new Ambassador to Switzerland just took the oath on her personal Kindle.
How’s this sound: an eight-mile midnight stroll through Fire Island, replete with Socratic dialogue and references to Sappho, Pythagoras, Diogenes and Hippocrates? Such is exactly what you get from Island Night, the latest project of poet Jon Cotner (previously mentioned for his We’re Floating and Poem Forest projects). As the poet explains to the NY Times, his mission with the walks was to revive “the ancient and endangered practices of walking and talking.”
“The label ‘Immigrant Fiction’ derives from the same problematic Pantheon in which ‘Women’s Literature,’ ‘Black Literature,’ and more, exist. Unlike the genre of, say, science fiction, which describes the content and style of the writing, categories like ‘immigrant’ or ‘Black’ fiction seem to be concerned more with the author’s identity and/or perceived audience.” On literary categories and immigrant fiction, over at Guernica.
Among the better Tumblr memes is Read to Me Tuesday, which is exactly what it sounds like: people choose a passage from a book, call in and read the passage over the phone. The resulting posts are compiled under the hashtag #RTMT and often re-blogged by rtmt.tumblr.com. As we see increased interest in social reading experiments like bookglutton.com, RTMT shows how the web might make social connection through reading aloud a possibility for the first time since, well, story time. Plus it’s really, really fun.