Jane Austen is a rare figure. Acclaimed as one of the most brilliant authors in modern history, she has a popularity that few of her peers can match, as evidenced by her posthumous sales and huge numbers of dedicated fans. How did her work hit the sweet spot of broad appeal and scholarly fame? In the WSJ, Alexander McCall Smith provides a theory. (h/t The Paris Review Daily)
"Wasn’t Pogofest the type of idea barely solvent towns pay marketing consultants millions of dollars to avoid? Who was Pogofest supposed to appeal to, besides—thirty years after the fact—me? I pose the question to Janice Parks, a former city commissioner. 'Well, look what a rat did for the wasteland of Central California,' she says." A bizarre, slightly surreal look at Waycross, Georgia -- the self-proclaimed hometown of Pogo Possum.
"That’s always been part of my goal — to show the dark side of women. Men write about bad men all the time, and they’re called antiheroes. ... What I read and what I go to the movies for is not to find a best friend, not to find inspirations, not necessarily for a hero’s journey. It’s to be involved with characters that are maybe incredibly different from me, that may be incredibly bad but that feel authentic." Gillian Flynn and Cheryl Strayed talk with The New York Times about the adaptations for Gone Girl, Wild, and writing credible characters. Their conversation pairs well with our own Edan Lepucki's essay on likability in fiction.
Considering his experience as a musician and comedian, it makes sense that Jacob Rubin wrote his new novel about a performer. The Poser depicts the tumultuous career of a talented impressionist. At Bookforum, Rubin talks about the novel, his career as a screenwriter and his knack for impressions as a child. You could also read his interview with Reif Larsen here at The Millions.
Throughout the 80s and 90s journalists turned hip hop into a literary movement. Pitchfork dives into that time and explores their legacy and impact on journalism and other literary forms. "Eager to extend the outer boundaries of their creativity, many of these writers would go on to ink novels, memoirs, short stories, scripts, and poetry, much of which stayed true to the language and attitude of hip-hop, as though their words were drafted to the sound of a boom-bap beat. It all added up to a low-key literary movement that writer and activist Kevin Powell has dubbed, 'The Word Movement.'" Includes a great reading list at the end.