We tend to assume that life stories, in mentally healthy people, are concrete things, assembled from events that are hard to twist or distort. Yet all of us shape our own stories in ways we can’t always see. At The Atlantic, Julie Beck explores the idea that life stories, as we construct them, form integral parts of our personalities.
A lot of women feel a connection to Cheryl Strayed, but one reader’s connection was personal. Strayed’s lost half-sister found her when she just happened to check out Wild because she liked travel narratives. “She didn’t know anything about me except when she read the description in my book of my early life, my mother and my father, she knew that father was hers, too. I don’t name my father in the book but she recognized him,” Strayed told NPR.
Colson Whitehead has some advice: write the book that “scares you shitless.” In a recent, wide-ranging interview with John Freeman, the Underground Railroad author talks about why he wrote his latest novel, along with his methods for sussing out good ideas. You could also read our review of The Underground Railroad.
At The Chronicle of Higher Education: A breathtakingly ballsy piece by an anonymous professional writer of academic papers — friend to non-native speakers, the rich and lazy, and the hopelessly dim. Whatever your professor wants, he delivers (for a fee, of course). This Ed Dante might remind you of Vitaly Borker, the charmingly unapologetic (and equally ballsy) thug internet retailer profiled by David Segal in the NYTimes a few weeks back.