“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.
George Perec‘s I Remember, a series of aphoristic memories modeled after Joe Brainard’s volume of the same name, are finally making their way into English translation. The Paris Review has an excerpt. “I remember that Stendhal liked spinach… I remember that one of the first decisions that de Gaulle took on coming to power was to abolish the belt worn with jackets in the military.”
“Bengali children’s fiction’s limitless supply of ghost stories is matched by little other than its readers’ appetite for it,” writes Siddharthya Swapan Roy. “Anthologies dedicated to ghostly thrills come out with unfailing regularity and every publishing house that does not wish to upset its child readership pays due respects to ghosts and their stories.”
“I try to edit my work in different states of mind. So I’ll go running on a really hot day and then read the 2,000 words I just wrote. Or if I’m upset, or really sleepy, or if I’m drunk, I’ll read this stuff. If you’re sleepy and you find yourself skipping over a paragraph because you’re bored by it and just want to get to the interesting part, it comes out. Those different states of mind are a really interesting filter.” Writing advice from Sebastian Junger.
Some writers find their voices by heading off to Europe. Others (like Thoreau in Walden) head off to the woods instead. At The Rumpus, David Biespiel writes about the year he moved to Vermont, and what it meant to see himself as “leaning into” his youth. Pair with our own Anne K. Yoder on Ken Kesey and the Oregon coast.
I’ve written before about Literary Enemies, a series at the Ploughshares blog in which two writers are shown to have opposing sensibilities. This week, Lily Meyer argues that Flannery O’Connor and Marilynne Robinson are a worthy addition to the series, as the former contracts narrative space and the latter expands it. Sample quote: “It seems to me that Marilynne Robinson’s project, in her books suffused with Protestant belief, has nothing to do with Jesus or with God.”
“What you might call an invisible economy of house sitters exists across the country,” writes Aaron Gilbreath in the Paris Review. His account of the generosity and clean counter-spaces of friends is a humbling reminder of the flip side of creative work.