Dominic Umile recalls his directionless 20s spent working menial jobs, reading Ray Bradbury, and the day his hero wrote him back.
“If you ask around, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a really bad novel easily enough. I mean a novel by someone who has spent isolated years writing a book they are convinced is a great work of literature. And when you’re reading it you’ll know it’s bad, and you’ll know what bad truly is.” What makes bad writing so bad? Toby Litt at The Guardian investigates.
“Will anyone in America give a damn about Beig? It’s hard to imagine our glittering zeitgest machine ever getting behind her, with her landscape, her women, her knowledge of the secret lives of animals born for the hatchet. Her writing, so invested in the disappearing rural world, is particular, yes, but universal: her characters love and long and pine away.” Matthew Neill Null is unsatisfied with how American readers have treated the work of the great German novelist Maria Beig. He makes a passionate case in her favor in this new essay over at The Paris Review.
“If we are now relentlessly connected, every marginal identity gaining collective recognition, becoming assimilated, ever more rapidly? If that is where we stand, then something like a stubbornly solitary voice may be welcome, even necessary, telling us that what it means to be human—and what may keep us human—is to feel alone in a strange room, with our seclusion the thing that defines and can save us.” On bearing witness to the spectacle of aloneness and the fiction of empathy.
“Anyone reading my fiction would never guess how seriously I take food.” Extra Crispy has an interview with Junot Díaz about his diet, with particular attention given to breakfast: “I split my time between two cities so when I’m in Boston there’s a Dominican restaurant called Merengue that serves the classic Dominican breakfast of mangú, fried egg, and fried salami. I leave off the fried cheese because well, damn.” If you’re hungry for more, might we also suggest our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s ode to the day’s first meal, as it figures in both literature and life.
As you probably read last week, Elon Musk (founder and CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX) is sure that we’re living in a computer-generated simulation. Over at The New Yorker, Joshua Rothman takes a hard look and tries to determine the actual odds of humans inhabiting a simulated world.
Authors are known to mine material from their personal relationships for their writing, but John Updike found inspiration from his interviews. After journalist William Ecenbarger wrote a profile of Updike in 1983, he found himself the subject of an Updike short story. Pair with: Our review of Updike’s Collected Stories.