Following the example of Flaubert, whose Dictionary of Received Ideas compiled the clichés of its day, Teju Cole set out on Monday to record his own clichés on Twitter. At Page-Turner, he sums up his experiment in a blog post. (You may recall that this is not the first time Cole has won acclaim for his Twitter account.)
“Throughout the Crash, I wrote free-hand, not caring about the style or if something I wrote in the afternoon contradicted something I’d established in the story that morning. The priority was simply to get the ideas surfacing and growing. Awful sentences, hideous dialogue, scenes that went nowhere – I let them remain and ploughed on.” Newly minted Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro on writing The Remains of the Day in four weeks.
“A name serves as a gateway to knowing someone, and usually the person with the aberrant name must create the opportunities. One way is to change her name.” S. Isabel Choi writes on why she chose to go by Isabel in high school. Pair with a piece on growing up with a Paraguayan name in the U.S.
Bibliophiles will rejoice at The New York Times‘s current travel section, which is entirely book-dedicated. The staff lead with “Temples for the Literary Pilgrim,” which profiles jaw-dropping bookstores, cafés, and restaurants around the world; Ann Patchett provides a U.S. based bookstore pilgrimage; seven writers, including Geraldine Brooks and Ta-Nehisi Coates, reflect on their personal favorites; and Jennifer Moses writes about traveling as a bookworm. Might we also recommend this literary travelogue by Kate McCahill from our archives?
This one goes out to all the visual learners out there. Here’s a helpful, illustrated guide to writing scenes and stories with Jeff VanderMeer, author of the bestselling Southern Reach Trilogy. Bonus: here’s an interview by VanderMeer with author Richard House from earlier this year.
“I have a big global voice, but a small local one, because I don’t want to be a target, and resent that in 2017, that’s still the only choice I get to have. I have a rule of leaving the party, or social space as soon as I see five white people drunk, because the only person who will remember that moment when everybody got hella racist will be me. I have a self-imposed curfew of when to ride my bike home, when to leave the park. I would rather risk my life riding late at night on the empty and mostly dark greenway, than riding on the street with Police officers looking for whoever matches a description.” A Brief History of Seven Killings author Marlon James writes on Facebook (?) about being big, close, and black in the U S of A. Pair with Kaulie Lewis on reading James’s The Book of Night Women during her senior year.
Lots of publications — The Millions included — have tackled the differences between reading e-books and physical books. It’s hard to know just what these differences mean for the future of literature. In the Chicago Tribune, John Warner proposes a novel argument (registration required) for why physical books will live on.
“I learned through imitation, but it was only when I followed—or found—my own voice that I was able to derive a different kind of inspiration from reading fiction, something subtler and more expansive. Today, when I reach a wall in my own work, I turn to authors I love to remind myself what is possible: that sentence, that structure, that daring twist of plot.” Chloe Benjamin, who just yesterday published a piece on choosing book titles for The Millions, writes about the dangers and rewards of reading while writing for Poets and Writers’ Recommends series.
Out this week: Mr. Mac and Me by Esther Freud; One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis; Munich Airport by Greg Baxter; The Jaguar’s Children by John Vaillant; The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe by Romain Puertolas; and The Sacrifice by Joyce Carol Oates. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great 2015 Book Preview.