“I could measure my progress with metrics like number of scabs collected, number of inches ollied,” writes Nick Courage, in his great piece about rediscovering skateboarding in his thirties. “There was an objective truth to the sport; unlike my writing, my powerslides were self-validating.”
“The best thing I ever do for my writing is to take a walk alone in the woods behind our house. Nothing else gets my writing juices flowing so well. And yes, I think that I absolutely need more quiet in our current fractured world.” For Poets & Writers, novelist Leesa Cross-Smith interviewed fellow writer Silas House about quiet books and the importance of nature in the writing process. Pair with: our own Emily St. John Mandel on the pleasures of quiet books.
“If you want to be grateful for something today, be grateful for that: Ebola doesn’t fly,” according to a 2012 NYT op-ed. (Ok, so that’s not true, but you’re still probably safe.) If you (like me) have been obsessively re-watching that infected American patient walk into his hospital in Atlanta, I’d like to suggest you (I) first relax, and then indulge your (my) Ebolapocalypse fears elsewhere, e.g., a roundup of the 14 best pandemic novels according to Slate, 11 from io9, 22 from Bookshop, or all 1,000+ at Goodreads.
Over at Ploughshares, Daniel Peña traces a parallel between Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and Gloria Anzaldúa’s hybrid text Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. As he puts it, “To separate Anzaldúa from the larger canon (and subsequently from those books she influenced) is to ignore her contribution to American literature. It’s to say she doesn’t belong in that kind of highbrow conversation, which she so obviously does—even Nelson acknowledges that she does.”
Trevor Berrett, the man behind The Mookse and the Gripes, and now The Worlds and Works of Shakespeare, is conducting a giveaway for the NYRB Classics edition of Mark Van Doren’s Shakespeare. Conditions to enter are enumerated on his blog, which you should certainly bookmark if you’re a fan of the Bard.
Serious reading is harder than ever. With so many distractions around, it’s incredibly difficult for a novel to keep our attention. In The Nation, Joanna Scott makes a case that careful reading is in danger, and builds a case for preserving difficult fiction. You could also read our own Nick Ripatrazone on trying to teach Thomas Pynchon.