Recommended reading (and doodling): an excerpt from an upcoming translation of Martin Solares‘s How to Draw a Novel, complete with diagrams and squiggling lines. Pair with our own Hannah Gersen‘s look at authors’s methods for drawing and mapping their own novels-in-progress.
Many feared the permanent loss of thousands of precious manuscripts and relics after insurgents razed Timbuktu’s Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Learning and Islamic Research. The Institute was home to over 30,000 manuscripts dating back to the 13th century. Or was it? In a fascinating report, Rukmini Callimachi details the extraordinary efforts of the some passionate locals that wound up saving much of the collection.
“Maybe Gnossos, had [Richard] Fariña lived long enough for a sequel, would have wound up on a commune in Canada, nibbling feta and blissed out on retsina, exhaling paregoric joints in some lush and fragrant garden … But he died in his twenties, like a lot of energetic young men of his era. It was the kind of romantic death we feel we understand almost too well, a promising talent suspended, that sense of exemption he wrote about—from mediocrity, from bourgeois compromise and midlife disappointment—a membrane forever intact.” On the enduring joys and exuberant voice of Richard Fariña’s Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me.
“The last thing your creative brain needs is a klaxon shouting WRONG while you’re in the middle of a creative thought. Eventually, as you use Neo, you’ll stop thinking about spelling and typos. This will push your creativity to the next level. You can always step through a spell check any time you like. But not while you’re writing.” Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series, proposes a new word processor called Neo.“I’m currently talking with programmers and consultants on how to get this done,” he writes on his blog, describing the application’s potential features. “Might be a decade before anything comes to light, so don’t hold your breath. But I’m willing to invest the time and money to make this a reality.” Pair with programmer Philip Hopkins‘s meditation on code and writing.
“What traits make Austen special, and can they be measured with data? Can literary genius be graphed?” The New York Times tackles the question of why, 200 years after her death, Jane Austen is still so popular. (One finding: the author“used intensifying words — like very, much, so — at a higher rate than other writers.”) See also: our interview with Curtis Sittenfeld, whose most-recent novel Eligible is the ultimate literary tribute, an adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.