Charles Baxter doesn’t believe in writing routines, but he does have some odd superstitions. “I don’t like to spill salt. I throw it over my left shoulder. But if I spill salt in the morning, my day is fucked,” he told The Daily Beast.
To give context to a new William Vollmann essay about reading his own FBI profile (available to subscribers only, sadly), Harper’s Magazine published a few pages from Vollmann’s file online. Among other things, they reveal that the FBI considered Vollman “exceedingly intelligent and possessed with an enormous ego.” (For a taste of the Harper’s essay, you can read this WaPo article on Vollmann’s connection to the Unabomber.)
E.L. Doctorow, the renowned novelist and fiction writer best known for books including Ragtime, Billy Bathgate and the National Book Award-winning World’s Fair, passed away in Manhattan last night at the age of 84. You could read one of our numerous pieces about his work if you’d like to look back on his life and career.
The 2017 Whiting Award winners were announced tonight at a ceremony in Manhattan, and this year’s list of ten honorees includes Francisco Cantú (The Line Becomes a River), Simone Wright (Of Being Dispersed), Phillip B. Williams (Thief in the Interior), Kaitlyn Greenidge (We Love You, Charlie Freeman), Tony Tulathimutte (Private Citizens), Jen Beagin (Pretend I’m Dead), and Lisa Halliday (Asymmetry) as well as playwrights Clarence Coo, James Ijames, and Clare Barron. The award, which recognizes early-career writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama, comes with a $50,000 prize. Excerpts from each writer’s work can be read at The Paris Review.
“Hamlet’s famous last words—’The rest is silence’—are less punning than ironic, since both his parting, eloquent gasps and his death play out amidst a growing bassline beat. ‘What warlike noise is this?’ Hamlet asks as the poison takes hold. The drums and commotion signal the arrival of the Norwegian crown prince Fortinbras, who bursts into the quiet of the massacred Danish court. From the beginning of Hamlet, we’re taught to think of sovereignty as a manipulation of sound waves.” What does silence mean in this age of constant digital noise? The Literary Hub takes a look.