HTMLGiant is running a cool series of interviews with readers who recently finished long or difficult books. Check out their takes on Lee Child’s Echo Burning, David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, and William Gaddis’s The Recognitions over here, here, and here, respectively. Also, while on the topic of difficult books, check out Emily Colette Wilkinson and Garth Risk Hallberg’s round-up of their ten top picks.
“If you ask around, I’m sure you’ll be able to find a really bad novel easily enough. I mean a novel by someone who has spent isolated years writing a book they are convinced is a great work of literature. And when you’re reading it you’ll know it’s bad, and you’ll know what bad truly is.” What makes bad writing so bad? Toby Litt at The Guardian investigates.
Tim Parks investigates the idea of “writing to death” in the cases of Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Anton Chekhov, Charles Dickens and William Faulkner. “So many of the writers I have looked at seem permanently torn between irreconcilable positions,” Parks writes. “Eventually, the dilemma driving the work either leads to death, or is neutralized in a way that prolongs life but dulls the writing” (Bonus: Our own Mark O’Connell just reviewed Parks’s latest book, Italian Ways.)
“Your opponents would love you to believe that it’s hopeless, that you have no power, that there’s no reason to act, that you can’t win. Hope is a gift you don’t have to surrender, a power you don’t have to throw away.” This seems a better time than most to revisit Rebecca Solnit‘s Hope in the Dark, an excerpt of which ran in The Guardian earlier this year. You can also read our review of Solnit’s The Faraway Nearby here.
How to Sell author Clancy Martin, drawing on his previous career as a jeweler, kicks off a three-parter at the Paris Review blog about how a potential jewelry deal took him to New Orleans and he ended up out on the street, wearing a bath towel and a blazer.
Last February, everyone was talking about Lawrence Wright‘s epic New Yorker profile of Paul Haggis and The Church of Scientology. But now, as The New York Times reports, the Church has released Freedom, a 51-page retaliatory glossy with DVD accompaniment.