The 2010 National Book Awards were announced this evening. In fiction, Jaimy Gordon won for The Lord of Misrule; in nonfiction, Patti Smith won for Just Kids; in poetry, Terrance Hayes won for Lighthead; and for young people’s literature, Kathryn Erskine won for Mockingbird.
At The Morning News, Ben Shattuck explores the similarities between paintings and fiction writing. He explains that pictures convey emotion the way stories convey plot, through composition. Pair with this Millions essay on learning about a book from paintings.
“I used to run cross country in high school and it was like, I knew if I put in a certain kind of training, it was going to make me faster. If X, then Y. But with writing, it’s like, if X, if I do this thing that’s necessary, which is giving myself the space and time, then what? It’s sort of a question mark. You have no idea. You work so hard to offer yourself up to the space of the unknown.” Leslie Jamison (and Angela Flournoy and Katherine Towler) on being alone and setting aside the time to write.
“The idea is to bring about a change in lifestyle of the young denizens of the city.” The Times of India reports that the Bhopal Runners Association is converting old parks around the city into green reading spaces with seating, wi-fi, and literary events. Less bookcentric but still a feat of public planning (and gentrification): New York City’s High Line, which our own Michael Borne wrote about when it first opened.
Kevin Courier is re-running interviews he did for the CBC in the 1980s on the Critics At Large site. Here’s his 1986 interview with Barbara Brenden, author of The Passion of Ayn Rand. Brenden’s book, Courier writes, “not only unveiled this polarizing figure” of Ayn Rand, but it “also illustrated the perils of blind faith and idolatry.” Given the Objectivist’s influence on a certain vice presidential candidate, this one’s worth a read.
“There’s still time to look something else up.” Merriam-Webster pleads with word lovers to prevent “fascism” from becoming its word of the year, The Guardian reports. See also: this Lithub piece about the social media genius behind M-W‘s Twitter feed.
“James Schiff, an associate professor of English at the University of Cincinnati, is working on a volume of Updike’s letters and has unearthed thousands of letters, postcards, and notes the author sent to complete strangers who wrote to him.” The Guardian writes about an in-progress book of John Updike‘s letters that reveals how often the writer corresponded with not only his contemporaries, like John Barth and Joyce Carol Oates, but his readers as well. See also: an essay about the personal and literary relationship between Barth and Updike.