At Slate, Katy Waldman asks a simple question: what the heck is the point of the National Book Awards, anyway?
Aimee Bender, Year in Reading alum and author of, most recently, The Color Master, writes for The New York Times about the structural genius of Goodnight Moon: “[The story] does two things right away: It sets up a world and then it subverts its own rules even as it follows them.”
“The point of a party is to make us forget we are solitary, wretched and betrothed to death; in other words, to transform us into animals.” Michel Houellebecq offers some handy tips, over at The Believer. Pair with this Millions review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory.
“If the history of the American sentence were a John Ford movie, its second act would conclude with the young Ernest [Hemingway] walking into a saloon, finding an etiolated Henry James slumped at the bar in a haze of indecision, and shooting him dead.” Adam Haslett takes on Stanley Fish, Strunk & White, and the art of writing a sentence.
How do you write an accurate memoir without perpetuating stereotypes? Jesmyn Ward struggled with this when writing about absent black fathers and husbands in her book Men We Reaped. “I also had to figure out how much of the truth do I tell, how do I make the truth as balanced as I possibly can? How do I make these people as complicated and as human and as unique and as multifaceted as I possibly can? For me, that was the way I attempted to counteract some of that criticism,” she told The Rumpus.