“I feel very transparent to myself. I’m more like an observer. I’m interested in what’s going on. I’m not sure that I really have a personality,” Joyce Carol Oates said in The New Yorker’s micro documentary about her writing life and routine. Pair with: our essay on Oates’ The Accursed.
“Writers teach, not writing per se, but how to engage in writing as a process and a means of perception. The actual work of writing is seldom sublime. It’s a struggle that grows more difficult if we avoid it. Writing is often excruciatingly slow and repetitive. Time, in slipping and sliding, makes itself felt and immediate. Words are the way in, but nothing is guaranteed. What writers or readers can do with language, or understand inside it, depends on what they know—on refining their sensibilities, on writing, revising, waiting, reading, writing, as though living in language were life and death.” Year in Reading alumna Jayne Anne Phillips writes for the Literary Hub about the importance of writing programs. For more on the debate, check out Hannah Gersen’s Millions essay.
Though Mark Twain first gained notoriety after publishing an essay about a famous jumping frog, the onetime Samuel Clemens didn’t really hit his stride until he became a public speaker, as the money he accrued from reading in front of audiences gave him a steady source of income. At Salon, Ben Tarnoff recounts Twain’s journey to the podium, one laid out more broadly in Tarnoff’s book about a group of San Francisco writers.
For The Guardian, Rafia Zakaria writes on the new wave of confessional “feminist” memoirs. As she puts it, “We’re on an uncomfortable tightrope between a bold new dialogue about women and sex, and the monetisation of that conversation by powers that recognise that as a gap in the market.” Pair with this Millions essay on feminist pop anthems.
Granta posts Salman Rushdie’s 1984 essay ‘Outside the Whale’ – a response to an essay by George Orwell about the political role of the artist: “If writers leave the business of making pictures of the world to politicians, it will be one of history’s great and most abject abdications.”
The Fault in Our Stars isn’t even out yet, but John Green already has another adaptation on the way. Fox 2000 will bring Paper Towns to screen next with the same screenwriters and producers as The Fault in Our Stars. Green will also be producing. “If you don’t like something, you can blame me,” he tweeted. Fault supporting actor Nat Wolff will star as the sleuthing Quentin. We just want to know who will play the enigmatic Margo Roth Spiegelman.