Congratulations are in order for Vanessa Veselka: PEN American has awarded her debut novel Zazen the Robert W. Bingham Prize. I first heard about the novel last year, from what was then the brand-spanking-new LARB, though this Minnesota Public Radio profile of Veselka is also a great way to get acquainted with her exciting talents.
“The greatest mistake the American writer ever made was asking everybody else what they thought of their writing. Look around your current writing workshop. Look right and left. Most of those people will stop writing. Because it’s too hard, they have no ideas, no one understands them, whatever. A few of those failed people will become editors. These are the only people in the room who should ever really matter to you.”
“There’s more to life than writing and publishing fiction. There is another way entirely, amazed as I am to discover it at this late date,” Philip Roth said in an interview with Cynthia Haven for Stanford’s The Book Haven. Besides his retirement from writing, Roth also discussed why he doesn’t consider himself an American-Jewish writer and his book The Ghost Writer. For more Roth, read our essay on lessons you can learn from his work.
Read Karl Ove Knausgaard’s acceptance speech for the Welt Literaturpreis, an annual prize awarded by the German newspaper Die Welt, at The New Yorker. He writes, “The difference between engaging with a real neighbor and one in a novel is that the former occurs in the social sphere, within the boundaries of its rules and practical constraints, whereas the latter occurs outside of it, in the reader’s own most private, intimate sphere, where the rules that govern our social interaction do not apply and its practical constraints do not exist.” You could also check out Knausgaard’s book excerpt at The Millions.
Recommended Reading: On lyric essays and trauma at Ploughshares. “I didn’t start writing lyric essays until I found out I had cancer. The melanoma buried in my right cheek was at first missed, and then misdiagnosed in its severity. Clark’s stage IV, they told me. Likely in my lymph nodes, but they wouldn’t know until my third surgery, the excision and biopsy.”
Looking to be a Content Generator for a Major Internet Website? Look no further than this piece from McSweeney’s: “We pay $15 per piece of content, whether it be a well-cited, thoroughly researched 5,000-word essay or ten captions under fair-use photos, so, y’know, more bang for your buck with the photos. Also no one reads essays, so win-win.”
Anaïs Nin had a lot to say about writing erotic fiction. Notably, she was unwilling to “leave out the poetry” and “concentrate on sex” in its place, despite repeated requests from her anonymous client to do just that. On a lighter note, Seth Fried also has some advice for aspiring writers of erotica. Quick, somebody get both of these articles to E. L. James.