“Siri, I need something.” Beep. “What can I help you with?” “Siri, I want to fix you. I want to rewrite your dialogue.” Beep beep. “I can help you with that.”
“I realize that, like most fantasies, reality is likely to be more complicated. For starters, literary communities—like most communities—have echelons. They have cliques; they have ghettos. You are the wrong age, work in the wrong genre, don’t know the right people, don’t teach at the same program … Anyone who thinks this isn’t true is someone squarely at the center of his or her chosen circle.” On peripherality and the uncertain nature of literary community.
“They found, unsurprisingly, that blocked writers were unhappy. Symptoms of depression and anxiety, including increased self-criticism and reduced excitement and pride at work, were elevated in the blocked group; symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, such as repetition, self-doubt, procrastination, and perfectionism, also appeared, as did feelings of helplessness and ‘aversion to solitude’—a major problem, since writing usually requires time alone.” On the causes of writer’s block.
Year in Reading alumna Parul Sehgal’s column for The New York Times debuted last week with her reflections on the great Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal. As she puts it, “He is a spider of a writer: subtle and sly, patient, with invisible designs. He never proclaims — he never needs to. He envelops.” Pair with John Yargo’s Millions essay on Hrabal’s fiction.
“I want to show you our world as it is now: the door, the floor, the water tap and the sink, the garden chair close to the wall beneath the kitchen window, the sun, the water, the trees.” Apples, plastic bags, teeth In The Guardian, Karl Ove Knausgaard attempts to explain the world to his unborn baby, object by object. Pair with our review of his epic, My Struggle.
After reading through two new biographies of Sylvia Plath — American Isis and Mad Girl’s Love Song — Terry Castle concludes that “nothing about her life or legacy seems wholesome or resolved.” (Related: our own Hannah Gersen talking with Pain, Parties, Work author Elizabeth Winder.)
“Every sense cleared about three hundred percent and stood up on its hind legs waving its feelers.” Eighty years ago, James Agee got an assignment that entered him into history, though not during his lifetime. Let us now celebrate Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. See also: our essay on famous artist-writer collaborations, like Agee’s with Walker Evans.