“I have come to realize how much I have, throughout my life, bought into the narrative of this alluring myth of personal responsibility and excellence. I realize how much I believe that all good things will come if I—if we—just work hard enough.” Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay writes for VQR Online about “The Price of Black Ambition.” Pair with our review of An Untamed State.
Lit crit becomes a legal matter: “The contrast between the total concept and feel of the works is so stark that any serious comparison of the two strains credulity,” wrote the English judge who has dismissed the case against J.K. Rowling brought by the estate of Willy the Wizard author Adrian Jacobs. Jacobs’ estate claimed that Rowling had plagiarized elements of Willy the Wizard‘s plot in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
“‘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.
“For a while, shortly after I finished an undergraduate creative writing course, everything I wrote started with an observation or a realization…I was going to be an essayist, and it was going to be awesome.” At The Morning News, Martin Connelly writes about how he lost his drive to become an essayist and the surprising thing that makes him want to start again — his daughter. For more on the power of the essay, read our interview with Leslie Jamison.
Pretty good deal on Amazon today: All the e-book versions of the “Best American” books are $1.99.