Mark Dimunation was on the committee that selected the 88 books for the Library of Congress’s current “Books That Shaped America” exhibit. Recently he did an interview with NPR‘s Lynn Neary in which he explained how he arrived at his decisions to include such works as Goodnight Moon, The Joy Of Cooking, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
When I was young, my mother always told me I should eat my carrots so my vision would improve. For twenty four years, I’ve obeyed. But now it seems I’ve been living a lie all this time. (Bonus carrot link: the most common type used to be purple, but orange was normalized to please the Dutch monarchy.)
Lots of writers have stories about creative writing classes that changed their lives. The remembrance of the pivotal class is a mini-genre in itself. At The Rumpus, Warren Adler writes about his own life-changing experience, looking back on a class he took at the New School all the way back in 1949.
“Me? He wants me to give him advice? But why? I still have no idea what I am doing. Then I realized that I did, at least, have eight more years of a writing practice that had run in tandem with a life of odd jobs, graduate school, starting a business, traveling, etc. I thought about an anecdote my friend Daniel once told me about what happened when Ian McEwan was asked to give advice to a young writer just starting out. He simply said, ‘Be successful.’” Catherine Lacey gives advice to a not-much-younger writer.
Peter Ackroyd, a man who T Magazine writer Jody Rosen calls “[an] insanely prolific, controversial and eccentric novelist and historian,” has published, at last count, nearly 6,500 pages of text. That incredible figure equates to more than fifty books, many of them with titles like Dickens: Public Life and Private Passions. (At present, he’s working on a biography of Alfred Hitchcock.)