The kind folks at the PEN American Center recorded Colum McCann’s recent conversation with author and soccer ace Aleksandar Hemon. Listen to the pair discuss the Western distinction between fiction and non-fiction, and also the hypothetical merits of “watching a potato.”
Fans of Theodore Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, often know that he had an earlier career as an ad agency illustrator, but how many of them know he was also an amateur taxidermist? “His father, superintendent of parks in Springfield, Mass., occasionally sent him antlers, bills and horns from deceased zoo animals,” reports NPR, elements that Geisel then integrated into fantastical wall sculptures.
Why would anyone write a book anonymously? Maria Bustillos ponders anonymity at The New Yorker. “Anonymous is more than a pseudonym. It is a stark declaration of intent: a wall explicitly thrown up, not only between writer and reader, but between the writer’s work and his life.”
Need to know how to tell if someone is or is not dead? How to leave a party gracefully? How to avoid the plague? Luckily the writers of the Middle Ages had a how-to book for everything, even if that advice does include killing bed bugs by “Spread[ing] Gun-powder, beaten small, about the crevices of your bedstead” and then lighting it.
“Maybe I [felt] a shift in responsibility when I had kids. I wanted the work I was doing, whatever it was, to be something that could be meaningful to them one day. That’s where the germ of the memoir came from. I thought that perhaps writing about my parents and where I came from would one day be helpful for my kids.” For Guernica, Christopher Kondrich interviews Tracy K. Smith about writing a memoir, the presence of David Bowie in her Life on Mars, and her reverence for the cosmic. Also check out Sophia Nguyen’s Millions review of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light.