In Karen Russell‘s Swamplandia!, there is an enchanting place known as the abandoned Library Boat. “It held a cargo of books,” Ava Bigtree explains, “In the thirties and forties, Harrel M. Crow, a fisherman and bibliophile, had piloted the schooner around our part of the swamp delivering books to the scattered islanders. Then Harrel M. Crow died and I guess that was it for the door-to-door service. But his Library Boat, miraculously, had survived on the rocky island, unscavenged, undestroyed by hurricanes. It was an open secret, utilized by all our neighbors.” Now something similar has moored in England’s canals. And, across the Atlantic, one New Yorker is keeping his own open secret.
Thirty years after its initial publication, Don DeLillo’s White Noise is still every bit the hilarious, uncannily prescient classic that everyone believed it was. White nailed the whole “America poisoned by reality and the humming glow of computer screens” angle better than almost anyone. For more DeLillo, here’s what its like to re-read White Noise.
"I will tell them one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest story of all — the story of good and evil, of strength and weakness, of love and hate, of beauty and ugliness. I shall try to demonstrate to them how these doubles are inseparable — how neither can exist without the other and how out of their groupings creativeness is born." John Steinbeck, American literary titan and author of The Grapes of Wrath, certainly knew a thing or two about creativity.
"So much of recovery is a fight against exceptionalism—that necessary act of saying, What I’ve lived has been lived before, will be lived again, is nothing special but still holds meaning, still holds truth." Chris Kraus interviews Leslie Jamison about recovery, memoir, and her forthcoming title, The Recovering, for The Paris Review. Pair with: our interview with Jamison.
Is the practice of using writing as a metaphor for birth, or birth as a metaphor for writing, in need of an overhaul? Stephanie Feldman for Electric Literature has some strong opinions on the subject. Motherhood on the brain, now? Check out this moving essay for The Millions on mothers and sons by Rachel Basch.
Over at Full Stop, Sean Minogue argues that social media can have a positive influence on a writer’s creative development. He mentions Twitter extraordinaire Teju Cole, who thinks his involvement in online discussions "comes from the non-American part of me which is saying that novelists in every other country, with the exception of the American or the Anglo-American sphere, actually consider it part of their work to engage.” Pair with our piece on the best of literary Twitter.
"When I have an idea that will later, sadly, become a story or a poem, I have a sensation of receiving something. But I do not know if that “something” is given to me by something or someone or if it bursts out on its own." An excerpt from Borges's conversations with the Argentinian poet and essayist Osvaldo Ferrari on writing, memory, and God is now available on The New York Review of Books blog.