Michael Cunningham, who alongside Maureen Corrigan and Susan Larson sat on the jury of the Pulitzer Prize for for fiction, gives the clearest account yet of how the award process works and defends the three shortlisted titles. His letter is in two parts, he also addresses the function of judgment and begins to build a poetics of literary greatness.
It’s the kind of niggling question that drives a writer mad: is it best to edit a piece after you finish a draft, or is it better to edit while you write? At Electric Lit, Lincoln Michel argues for the latter, on the grounds that it lets writers fix endemic problems before it’s too late. You could also read Lincoln’s 2010 Millions review of the movie Avatar.
We all spend way too much time in airports this time of year, but Brad Leithauser searched for a metaphor about his journeys through BWI. As he writes for The New Yorker, “There was a piquant pleasure on the night when I first put these two experiences—morning churchgoing, evening airport-going—side by side. I’d been idly and only semi-consciously asking myself what these nocturnal intervals at B.W.I. reminded me of, and now, suddenly, I’d located my metaphor.”
Year in Reading alum Elizabeth McCracken has a new story collection out this week, and to mark the occasion, she spoke with Kelly Luce over at Salon about her writing, her Twitter obsession and — strangely enough — cannibalism (at least in the context of fairy tales). She also talks about the importance of humor, lamenting that “some young writers mistake humorlessness for seriousness.” (Related: Tanya Paperny wrote a eulogy for the translator Michael Henry Heim.)
“I always think, ‘What if I can’t?’ Then I always think, ‘Oh shit, don’t think that.’ Because thinking about it can make it happen. Not like it’s happened that often. But I get scared about it. We all do. Anybody that tells you they don’t they’re full of it. They’re always scared it might happen.” There’s a lot of really bad writing about sex. This is a piece about some of the good stuff.