Alcohol. Promiscuity. LSD. All three are said to inspire creative minds. And if Sarah Dunant’s well-researched new novel, Blood and Beauty, is credible, we can add a new one, syphilis, to the list. (Wait, what?)
“Skipping or skimming parts of a narrative should not only be expected but encouraged, particularly if an author is writing without clarity or purpose or showing off. Life’s too short to slog through some smarty-pants attempt to demonstrate a mastery of mechanical engineering or botany.” Adam Kirsch and Anna Holmes face off for The New York Times Bookends column about whether there are right and wrong ways to read a book.
“And now, as an adult, I love nothing more than curling up with a good book, closing my eyes, breathing in through my nostrils, keeping my eyes closed and not reading yet continuing to draw in oxygen for hours, and, thanks to my fetishized olfactory associations for printed and bound matter, becoming sexually aroused.” On the scent that no e-reader can ever replace.
In a By Heart piece for The Atlantic, Harriet Lane writes about the “bleak precise nature” of Philip Larkin‘s poetry (what Stephen Akey called “The Poetry of Mental Unhealth” in a Millions review) and about the power inherent in writing fiction. “In my everyday life I have no control, really: who does? But on paper, I hold all the cards. Fiction provides you with a way to shape a world, to exert the kind of power and agency our real lives so often lack.”
This holiday season, show a little restraint. Write a short short that uses each word only once, and email it to [email protected] by December 31 at midnight for your chance to win Electric Literature vol. 1 and be published on their blog, The Outlet. Further details available here.
This week, our own Lydia Kiesling took part in The Morning News Tournament of Books, where she adjudicated a showdown between Scott McClanahan’s Hill William and Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. Who went on to the next round: the trans-Pacific odyssey, or the tale of West Virginia? (You could also read our own Edan Lepucki’s Tournament contribution from last year, or else read our own Nick Moran’s Year in Reading piece on Scott McClanahan.)