Happy Mother’s Day to the maternal Millions readers (and staffers)! Surely none of you rank among the vilest women in fiction, or six of the worst fictional mothers, or even the fifteen most overbearing video game mothers. I’m sure you’re all wonderful.
“Her storytelling is magical and profound, creating connectivity between people and places: a signal of hope at a particularly divided moment in time.” Joining the company of Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, and Sjón, Turkish novelist Elif Şafak has been chosen as the fourth contributor for The Future Library Project. Şafak’s novel, Three Daughters of Eve, was featured in the second-half of our 2017 Great Book Preview.
“The magical aspect of poetry does not diminish the value of critical scrutiny. Scholarship has clarified the meaning of poetry. The point is rather that an essential part of poetry’s power has little connection to conceptual understanding. Poetry proffers some mysteries that lie beyond paraphrase.” Dana Gioia with a beautiful essay on the enchantment of poetry for The Dark Horse. Check out our extensive On Poetry archive and continue your journey of poetic enchantment.
“What if, instead of simply critiquing Go Set a Watchman’s failure, we tried to analyze it? The new, older work makes more sense if we read it as an attempt to accomplish two tasks: first, to master—unsuccessfully, it turns out—the smart-magazine style that Harper Lee developed in her student journalism; and second, to write in a genre that often relied on the ironic elisions typical of ‘smart style’: the midcentury social-problem novel.” Tom Perrin on Harper Lee and the social novel. Pair with Michael Bourne’s Millions review.
A while back, Frank Ocean alluded to the possibility of one day writing a novel. Asked by Guardian interviewer Rebecca Nicholson about his immediate plans following the success of his last album, Channel Orange, the musician replied, “I might just write a novel next.” The response seemed unserious. But now, in Jeff Himmelman’s long profile of Ocean for The New York Times Magazine, it appears the idea may have a bit more traction. “It’s fiction,” says Ocean. “And it’s about brothers.”
Over at Catapult, Mensah Demary shares the story of how he got to be a professional editor. As he puts it, “I was asked recently what it takes to succeed as a writer and editor. Actually, I was being asked a more specific question: how do you become a successful writer and editor? I don’t have the answers; I only have my life.” Pair with Kate Angus’s Millions essay on making a living as a poet.