An interview with Tom Bissell in which he drops this gem while talking about John Jeremiah Sullivan and Geoff Dyer: “I prefer to think of that kind of nonfiction as a voice whispering to you in the night. “
“‘It is the novelist’s innate cowardice that makes him depute to imaginary personalities the sins that he is too cautious to commit for himself.’ The autobiography of the imagination then is an autobiography of our base desires, the things we haven’t done but have longed for. It is our fantasies, our secrets from which we curate by redaction how someone else sees us. It is an autobiography of instinct, desire.” Emilia Phillips on poetry as the autobiography of the imagination, over at Ploughshares.
Nick Stockton wonders why writers are such bad proofreaders of their own work. He argues that it is hard to catch typos because our brains arrive at meaning faster by taking shortcuts. Also enjoy this skit of Strunk & White in conversation with the grammar police.
Some of Jeff Tweedy‘s favorite writers: “I like Henry Miller a lot. I like William H. Gass a lot. Donald Barthelme, Robert Coover, Kurt Vonnegut. . . . I used to walk into bookstores when I was a kid and get the stuff that looked the craziest and the most free.” (In a Rolling Stone interview, unavailable online.)
In general, fact-checking isn’t the most glamorous part of a journalist’s career, which is why Michael Erard was surprised to find that a recent fact-checking session for an Al Jazeera article turned out to be among the most interesting conversations of his life. Why? His sources were linguists, and their job was to explain to him the workings of brand-new sign languages.
Our regular contributor Sonya Chung is interviewed in the latest issue of Bookslut, discussing her new book Long for This World. “I write novels because it’s a place where I can bring all of who I am, and what I know, and what I don’t know but want to know, into a coherent, created world.”