What’s the one question you should never ask a writer starting a new book: how’s the writing going? “Nothing can damage a novel in embryo as quickly and effectively as trying to describe it before it’s ready,” Mark Slouka writes. Follow his advice for how to keep your writer friends.
Another hip-hip for long-form journalism. George Packer‘s piece in the New Yorker on Richard Holbrooke and the Af-Pak War reminds one that some things — complicated geopolitical matters, for example — must be explored at length. Subscribers can read the full article in the digital edition here. Short of that, read Packer’s assessment of the McChrystal Report on his blog.
Sometimes, it’s easier to read or watch something that’s light and airy, as opposed to seeking out art that challenges your perspective. Millions contributor Fiona Maazel generally thinks of herself as a person who instinctively chose nuance over breeziness. But lately, she’s had to ask herself a tough question — is she actually more attracted to the anodyne?
Can the art of teaching art actually be exhibited? A new exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston about the one-time Asheville, NC institution Black Mountain College asks just such questions. Black Mountain College was a controversial, short-lived bastion of free-thought and artistic expression which hosted such figures as Josef Albers, John Cage, and Robert Creeley from 1933 to 1957.
Eliza Griswold’s deeply affecting profile of the female poets in Afghanistan ran last April in the New York Times Magazine, and it’s certainly worth a read if you missed it back then. For those who read it and wanted more, though, definitely check out the Pulitzer Center’s multimedia package on all of Griswold and photographer Seamus Murphy’s work, Afghanistan: On Love and Suicide.