In the spirit of Halloween, Ploughshares has some literary costume ideas.
In 2011, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind screenwriter Charlie Kaufman gave a 70-minute lecture at the BFI in London. Little did he know Eliot Rausch would take snippets from that lecture, set them to accompanying, complementary visual clips, and turn the entire thing into a marvelous, beautiful video entitled What I Have to Offer.
“I didn’t know who William Kelley was when I found that book but, like millions of Americans, I knew a term he is credited with first committing to print. ‘If You’re Woke, You Dig It’ read the headline of a 1962 Op-Ed that Kelley published in the New York Times, in which he pointed out that much of what passed for “beatnik” slang (“dig,” “chick,” “cool”) originated with African-Americans.” Are you familiar with William Kelley? Let Kathryn Schulz be your guide on this historical literary adventure as she discovers an immensely influential writer whom most of us have never heard mentioned.
“I certainly didn’t want to do something that felt as if I was having a séance. I started with her most personal papers. I wanted her interior voice; I didn’t want the formal writing. I went immediately to her diaries and letters and to the commonplace books. From there I started looking at the marginalia because I was getting a sense of wanting to know what was on her mind while she was writing in her journals.” Lynell George conducted a posthumous interview with Octavia Butler, Bomb magazine talked to her about the process. Pair it with this essay on slavery in fiction from our own Edan Lepucki.
We’ve written a fair bit about the By the Book series at the Times. You can read a selection of the best entries in a collection published by the paper. This week, the series featured another novel guest: Alan Gilbert, the conductor of the New York Philharmonic. Sample quote: “I don’t seek out books about music. I’ve read them over the years, but somehow, as a genre, it isn’t something I am specifically looking for.”