“Most of us can’t write like our heroes, but nearly every one of us can try to drink like them.” Ian Crouch examines the myth of the great alcoholic writer and Charles Jackson’s The Lost Weekend in The New Yorker‘s “The Book That Will Make You Never Want to Drink Again.”
It’s a common trope in writing courses that young artists need a dose of childlike creativity. Self-help books for people with writer’s block are filled with callbacks to childhood interests. But is it possible, as Tasha Golden argues at the Ploughshares blog, that idealizing children isn’t the answer to our problems?
Yesterday we noted that The Pale King is now available for pre-order. It turns out another new David Foster Wallace book will be out before the long-awaited final novel hits shelves. In December, Columbia University Press will put out Wallace’s undergrad thesis Fate, Time, and Language: An Essay on Free Will. From the publisher description: “Long before he probed the workings of time, human choice, and human frailty in Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace wrote a brilliant philosophical critique of Richard Taylor’s argument for fatalism. In 1962, Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that humans have no control over the future. Not only did Wallace take issue with Taylor’s method, which, according to him, scrambled the relations of logic, language, and the physical world, but he also called out a semantic trick at the heart of Taylor’s argument.”
With the frenzied holiday season underway, there aren’t many new releases to look at this week, but there are some newly reissued classics hitting shelves. NYRB Classics has put out Alien Hearts by Guy de Maupassant and Everything Flows by Vasily Grossman. Vintage, meanwhile, has smart looking new editions of a pair of Somerset Maugham books: The Narrow Corner and A Writer’s Notebook.