Happy Halloween! At the New Yorker, the winners of the dress your pet as a literary character contest. Don’t miss the honorable mentions (I’m partial to the feline Moby Dick).
The Republic of South Sudan has declared independence. Just three years ago, Dave Eggers published Out of Exile: Narratives from the Abducted and Displaced People of Sudan (Voice of Witness). The Guardian has an excerpt. A year later, Jamal Mahjoub foresaw the secessionist fervor south of Darfur.
Actor and humorist Nick Offerman at “By The Book” on choosing George Saunders to write his hypothetical life story: “I think [Saunders] would embarrass me by telling the justifiable truth, but with such élan that I would have to shrug and say, ‘It was worth it.’ If anybody could pull it off, I believe Mr. Saunders would have the tools and talent necessary to render the woodshop traumas of sandpaper and spokeshave, the roller coaster dynamics of a character actor’s life in showbiz, and my relentless penchant for filling a room with noxious gases into a palatable narrative. George — if you’re reading this and you’re up for it — before you dive in, I would just like to say that I think you’re very handsome.”
Up until 1999, Italian college students were required to write longform theses, which explains why Umberto Eco felt the need to write a guide to completing one. Eco being Eco, however, the guide went on to become a classic with many applications. At Page-Turner, Hua Hsu explains why the author’s writing manual is also a guide to life. You could also read Hillary Kelly on Eco’s Confessions of a Young Novelist.