According to Slate: “Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.”
“Writers teach, not writing per se, but how to engage in writing as a process and a means of perception. The actual work of writing is seldom sublime. It’s a struggle that grows more difficult if we avoid it. Writing is often excruciatingly slow and repetitive. Time, in slipping and sliding, makes itself felt and immediate. Words are the way in, but nothing is guaranteed. What writers or readers can do with language, or understand inside it, depends on what they know—on refining their sensibilities, on writing, revising, waiting, reading, writing, as though living in language were life and death.” Year in Reading alumna Jayne Anne Phillips writes for the Literary Hub about the importance of writing programs. For more on the debate, check out Hannah Gersen’s Millions essay.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the new books and culture website The Nervous Breakdown. They’ve already got a great interview with Millions favorite Dan Chaon, as well as some interesting essays that I’m looking forward to digging into. I also like their “self-interview” series–where writers ask, and answer, their own questions.
“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.
In a piece reminiscent of Talk of the Nation’s “You Can’t Possibly Read It All, So Stop Trying” episode, A D Jameson tracks every film he’s watched over a fifteen year span, and then discusses the data for HTMLGiant. Choice line (which could easily apply to literature, too): “The more you watch from the present day, the more garbage you’re bound to see—but your conclusions will be your own. Conversely, the further back you go, the more you’ll be guided by the opinions of others. (If nothing else, what’s available will be largely determined by what’s remained popular.)”
In an illuminating interview for Slate, James Wood revises his opinion on David Foster Wallace and discusses how aging can change critics. As he puts it, “At exactly the moment that I wanted really to write, and started writing poems and then trying to write bad fiction, I was reading with a view to learning stuff. I was reading poetry. How did Auden do his stanza forms? And I was trying to copy those. What’s a successful poem, what’s an unsuccessful poem? […] What’s a good sentence? I don’t think I’ve changed. I am as sincerely interested in novels that fail as I am in novels that succeed. I just want to work them out. It’s a pleasure for me actually.” Top it off with Jonathan Russell Clark’s essay on Wood’s The Nearest Thing to Life.