Historian Robert A. Caro, author of The Power Broker, has spent 35 years researching and writing about the life and presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Last Tuesday, devoted fans were thrilled to learn that the fourth book in his LBJ saga is due out in May. It will be entitled The Passage of Power, and it will focus on the years between 1958 and 1964.
“Fiction is messier. Essay is, for me, an attempt at a kind of clarity. I have a very messy and chaotic mind, but when I’m writing an essay I find I can exert a bit more control over it.” The The Guardian published a Q&A with Zadie Smith with questions from fellow authors, politicians, and fans. Smith’s upcoming essay collection, Feel Free, is featured in the first half of our 2018 Great Book Preview.
“An ideal essay is hard to define, but easy to point to. An ideal essay mines the “I” in efforts of high exposition. It is driven by a need to testify or witness, and demands the same of its reader. It is a glimpse of something uncomfortably recognizable, a requiem for the quotidian, a look over the newly-gilded edge.” Samantha Tucker Iacovetto writes about “Defining the Ideal Essay” for Brevity’s Nonfiction Blog
“In one of his last columns, published in March 1966, Flann O’Brien looked back on his catechism, compiled more than twenty years earlier, and described it as ‘an exegetic survey of the English language in its extremity of logo-daedalate poliomyelitis, anaemic prostration and the paralysis of incoherence.’ One month after writing that, he was dead, and yet within a year a remarkable renaissance was taking place, with the long-delayed publication of his great comic fantasy The Third Policeman and, soon afterwards, the first of many anthologies of the ‘Cruiskeen Lawn’ columns, this one entitled The Best of Myles.” (Related: our own Mark O’Connell on the humor in O’Brien’s work.)
“I started zoning out a little. My eyes drifted over toward my cat. Mr. Patterson pulled me right back in by saying, ‘Once you have the outline, start writing dude, you’re ready.’ It was that dude that woke me.” At The Awl, Patrick Hoffman reviews James Patterson’s MasterClass on writing. Pair with Bill Morris‘s account of losing his Pattersonian virginity at 32,000 feet.