Mary Ruefle, author of the forthcoming Madness, Rack, and Honey, wrote a poetic essay on the subject of fear. It’s chock full of lines like this one about why she likes the word dread more than the word fear: “because fear, like the unconscious emotion which is one of its forms, has only the word ear inside of it, telling an animal to listen, while dread has the word read inside of it, telling us to read carefully and find the dead, who are also there.”
Most of the time, when somebody insults a writer on Twitter, the insult disappears into the cyberspace ether. However, as with any rule, there are always exceptions, and one is when you trash Joyce Carol Oates and then thank her for inventing a breakfast food.
W.W. Norton puts together a project similar to our Year in Reading (and with some participants in common): Writers Recommend.Another clever batch of recommendations: Village Voice asks several notables to recommend their favorite “obscure” books.Three Percent reveals its 25-book longlist for the “Best Translated Book of 2008” (Bonus Link: The Prizewinners: International Edition)A conversation with South African poet and anti-apartheid activist Breyten BreytenbachTodd Zuniga’s (of Opium Magazine and Literary Death Match) “favorite writers we haven’t heard of yet.”Best book cover designs of the year. (via 3% and kottke)Maud reproduces the memo behind the huge reorganization at Random House (which itself is just one part of the belt tightening hitting the publishing industry in recent weeks.)
In writing her novel The Last Neanderthal, which published this week, Millions staffer Claire Cameron relied on Jane Smiley’s motto for writing historical fiction: “you are there.” Bonus: Don’t miss our interview with Cameron, in which she describes her many “life-long obsessions.”
This week, Football Book Club is taking it to the next level: They’re reading Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and posting about Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half. If you’re keeping score at home, that means this week is All Brosh, All the Time. Also, as per usual, they will not be watching the NFL and not liking it one bit.
Curtis Sittenfeld did some interesting research for her latest novel, Sisterland. “I went to this New Age bookstore in a distant suburb of St. Louis. I basically went there and was like, ‘I’m doing research,’ and then I un-ironically bought some crystals,” she told The Rumpus.
“Why, for instance, did I dream I had surged up through the lawn of Toronto’s Victoria College and clomped into the library, decomposing and covered with mud? The librarian didn’t notice a thing, which, in the dream, I found surprising. Was this an anxiety dream? If so, which anxiety?” Margaret Atwood’s dream diary.
“BEST FEATURE: If you glance at the word it looks like it says ‘tiny axe’ which sounds very cute. It makes me picture a tiny lumberjack. WORST FEATURE: Anxiety can turn a pleasant afternoon into a sweat-drenched pair of slacks that are hard to explain.” Ted Wilson reviews anxiety (spoiler alert: it only gets one star out of five) for Electric Literature.