Creative writing teachers ply a hazardous trade. Don’t believe us? Then maybe this frightening tale — excerpted from an upcoming book, Give Me Everything You Have, which you can read more about in our preview — will help change your mind.
“For a man who is making his living as a critic to write about Scott Fitzgerald without mentioning The Great Gatsby just means that he doesn't know his business. Many people consider The Great Gatsby one of the few classic American novels. I do myself. Obviously such a judgment is debatable.” The New Republic digs up a tribute by John Dos Passos.
Penguin released a book trailer for the newest Thomas Pynchon novel in which a guy in a T-shirt that reads “I’m Pynchon” stands on a rooftop on the “Yupper” West Side and talks about his life. (To find out why I used the term “Yupper,” check out the recent New York mag piece on Pynchon that I wrote about last week.)
Francine Prose has an idiosyncratic theory that the Hindu god Ganesh is a vital part of her writing process. In a VQR essay, she explains that her portrait of the deity (which she purchased forty years ago at a bazaar in Mumbai) gives her a kind of confidence that goes beyond superstition. As support for this belief, she points out that Ganesh is known in some quarters as “the writer’s god.”
Does modern China need its own literary sub-genre? On trying to understand China's "ultra-unreal" reality: "If Magic Realism was the way in which Latin American authors presented their view of their reality, then Ultra-Unreal Realism should be our name for the literature through which the Chinese regard their reality. The Chinese word 'chaohuan' (ultra-unreal) is something of a play on the word 'mohuan' (magic), as in 'mohuan xianshizhuyi' (magic realism)— 'mohuan' is 'magical unreal,' and 'chaohuan' is 'surpassing the unreal.'”
Recommended listening: Radio Open Source has been broadcasting Anton Chekhov's short stories, with voices including Chekhov translator and biographer Rosamund Bartlett, author Andre Dubus of House of Sand and Fog, and numerous other writers, actors, and scholars. "Chekhov makes you want to be a better person. He makes you want to live a better life." (Unpersuaded? Consider our essays on why reading Chekhov, unlike booze or smokes, will make you a better person in 2014.)