“I’ve never felt less self-consciously preoccupied with language than I did when I was writing Freedom.” Lorin Stein introduces The Paris Review’s new Winter issue, and includes excerpts from the Art of Fiction interview with Jonathan Franzen.
“Writing on a computer can be terribly distracting, so sometimes I like to use a pencil and paper to jot down ideas. I always end up drawing a cartoon duck. Inevitably, the duck is holding a notepad, and I can read the ideas that he wrote down.” At Clickhole, six writers explain how they overcome writer’s block.
Sean Manning (of Talking Covers) hosted a discussion with Jonathan Lethem last week at LA’s Last Bookstore. You can check out video and audio of the event over here, and the post also features an exclusive glimpse at the cover art for Lethem’s forthcoming novel Dissident Gardens. (Bonus: a look at Dissident Gardens in our Great 2013 Book Preview.)
A decade before Matt Groening created The Simpsons, he debuted his first comic, Life in Hell, at a record store in Los Angeles. The strip kept running for thirty-five years, even after The Simpsons brought its creator international fame. He decided to end it earlier this year, and his fans (including Alison Bechdel) are paying tribute.
Janet Frame’s posthumous novel In the Memorial Room is out this week, as is a new e-book edition of Jack London’s The Sea Wolf. Also out: Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems by the onetime Poet Laureate William Stafford; a new biography of Alfred, Lord Tennyson; and the latest edition of The Best American Magazine Writing.
"Since the middle of the 20th century, the academy has conditioned us to stay grounded within texts and steer clear of writers’ biographies for insights while biographers are often timid about the kind of playful speculation that we can undertake here in Slate. Readers, myself included, tend to wonder about the sources for characters the likes of Kurtz, Sherlock Holmes, and Jay Gatsby—larger-than-life, mysterious, existing on a kind of separate plane—and in doing so we are continuing the quests of the narrators who tried first (Marlow, Watson, and Carraway)." Matthew Pearl asks: was Robert Louis Stevenson the blueprint for Conrad's Kurtz?