“There tends to be this idea that every piece and every assignment and every gig is always something speaking from the soul. We think that about great writers, that they’re incapable of doing hackwork.” The Rumpus interviewed Michelle Dean about women writers, the research process, and her forthcoming book, Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion. Pair with: Dean’s 2016 Year in Reading entry.
“Since the middle of the 20th century, the academy has conditioned us to stay grounded within texts and steer clear of writers’ biographies for insights while biographers are often timid about the kind of playful speculation that we can undertake here in Slate. Readers, myself included, tend to wonder about the sources for characters the likes of Kurtz, Sherlock Holmes, and Jay Gatsby—larger-than-life, mysterious, existing on a kind of separate plane—and in doing so we are continuing the quests of the narrators who tried first (Marlow, Watson, and Carraway).” Matthew Pearl asks: was Robert Louis Stevenson the blueprint for Conrad‘s Kurtz?
“In Saigon I always went to sleep stoned so I always lost my dreams, probably just as well, sock in deep and dim under that information and get whatever rest you could, wake up tapped of all images but the one remembered from the day before, with only the taste of a bad dream in your mouth like you’d been chewing on a roll of dirty old pennies in your sleep.” The 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time series over at The Guardian soldiers on with its ninth pick, Michael Herr’s Dispatches.