In the pages of Oxford American, the late Barry Hannah confesses to writing “out of a greed for lives and language.”
“This seems to me the much more complex human truth … that for every theorist of the physical, as with every brainless brawler out in front of a tavern, there is a spot in him in which he aspires to the spirit. Always the flickering of the spiritual in which we reach for better. This is the ambition that changes those who aspire to it.” Here is the latest installment in The Literary Hub’s brave, groundbreaking series “Rick Moody: Life Coach.” This week finds Moody urging his reader along a path of nonviolence. Last time he took on crying.
On the occasion of Scribner’s publication of the “Restored Edition” of A Moveable Feast, Gioia Diliberto, biographer of Ernest Hemingway’s wife Hadley, writes of her discovery of the Hadley Hemingway tapes.Sarah Schmelling’s McSweeney’s piece “Hamlet (Facebook News Feed Edition)” has spawned a book Ophelia Joined the Group Maidens Who Don’t Float: Classic Lit Signs on to Facebook, the canon retold in social networking parlance.Speaking of the canon, The Second Pass plays devil’s advocate and tells us which of history’s most praised books are best avoided. (We will pass over in silence the inclusion of One Hundred Years of Solitude.)Mark Athitakis writes about the National Book Award in 1980, “an interesting time for the prize.” The previous year, publishers pulled out of the awards, contending according to an NYT article, “the awards favored little-read books.” (This criticism resurfaced in 2004.) After 1980, the festivities ballooned to eight fiction categories before eventually being scaled back in subsequent years. (via Maud)In Slate, Nathaniel Rich wonders why “the most peaceful people on earth [Scandinavians] write the greatest homicide thrillers.”The “Significant Objects project,” in which worthless trinkets are sold on eBay along with original fiction written about said worthless trinkets, has launched. Participants include Curtis Sittenfeld, Lydia Millet, Matthew Sharpe, Sam Lipsyte, and a few dozen others. The eBay auctions can be found here.
Jeff Sharlet had a challenge for his creative nonfiction students at Dartmouth College. Sensing that journalism had become too “dull,” too mired in a “culture of professionalism” divided “between reporting and ‘storytelling,’” Sharlet asked his students who didn’t “know [any] better” to create a magazine of their own. The result, 40 Towns, embraces “the right conditions” of literary creation – immersion, journalism, regionalism and “a term of revision” – to present a “collection of documents, artifacts of real life” about the Upper Valley.
“It’s a critical dilemma in my reading and writing but also a real-life dilemma in a family like mine, with Alzheimer’s in our genes: How do you locate the personhood in someone who is, for neurobiological reasons, no longer the person you knew? Is there a way to be true to medical fact and still find something that is transcendently human?” Stefan Merrill Block writes about the literature of Alzheimer’s and Matthew Thomas‘s We Are Not Ourselves, which Lisa Peet reviewed for The Millions.