Are you writing a novel about an escaped tiger? (They’re quite popular these days.) Well, if you hope to win the Booker prize, you’d increase your odds by 1,300% if you switched your theme to “death.”
“We tether ourselves to others as a path not taken, a dream unfulfilled. A lesson unlearned, a responsibility unmet. We mourn idols as ourselves because even that unachieved road must end.” Paul Taunton has written a heartfelt Hazlitt essay on Frederick Exley, Frank Gifford, and passionate idolatry. Exley’s cult favorite A Fan’s Notes, published in 1988, is a fictional memoir that centers on a quasi-obsession with Gifford, who passed away earlier this week at the age of eighty-four.
How did Ian Fleming come up with James Bond? It’s easy to think, considering the political context of his era, that Fleming tailored his superspy to be the ideal hero of the Cold War. Yet there’s another, more prosaic explanation -- was the author simply having a midlife crisis?
"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.
Jeff Vandermeer's Southern Reach trilogy: a genuinely weird work of ecological fiction, a hyper-object, or a strangely beautiful "glimpse of a whole that’s, by its nature, unknowable"? Joshua Rothman argues for all three in a review for The New Yorker. For more from Vandermeer himself, check out his Millions interview with Richard House, author of The Kills.