Rebecca Davis O’Brien unearths a letter in which Malcolm Cowley tackles the timeless question, “Should I get an MFA?” Just as poignant as Cowley’s letter is novelist Helen DeWitt’s pointed dismissal of Cowley’s advice in the comments section.
“Dear Mrs D, Thanks for your homework. Your idea of writing a Christmas ghost story was a good one, but it’s not really the kind of thing I tend to do — it’s a little bit too genre for my tastes. Try Kevin, who sits next to me. He loves that stuff.” Over at McSweeney’s, Nick Hornby advises his son on excuses for failing to hand in his English homework, excuses which Hornby learned are acceptable during a thirty-year career in journalism, books, and film.
Authors, are you struggling to get your book’s characters together? Are they lacking a little spark, a little intimacy? Well, have no fear. The folks at Open Road Media put together a video with Erica Jong, Lawrence Block, Patricia Gaffney, and a few more authors on The Art of Writing Sex Scenes. This should do the trick.
Anonymous strikes again: On January 25th, the entity that brought us 1996’s deliciously scandalous Primary Colors: A Novel of Politics, offers a roman à clef for the Obama age: O: A Presidential Novel. Then it was Joe Klein, but this Anon. is still Anon. Perhaps better than the insider gossip: The media-fueled whodunit the novel’s sure to inspire.