Elissa Schappell thinks writers need to stop whining. “Writers seem to think that by virtue of intellect or sensitivity that we suffer more than others, that the work we do is more necessary than other work. This idea is not only ridiculous, it’s shameful,” she wrote after 2paragraphs asked her “What Do You Like Least About Being A Writer?” Pair with: our interview with her earlier this year.
At Brain Pickings, Maria Popova shares a series of drawings (produced in collaboration with Debbie Millman) that map the regions of the US according to literary quotations. Thoreau, perhaps not surprisingly, gets the East Coast with a quote from Walden, while Year in Reading alum Jeffrey Eugenides represents the Midwest.
If you haven’t gotten enough of literary New York quite yet, here’s what the Guardian (UK) thinks you should be reading about “the American dream concretised in a shimmering mirage, the burgeoning metropolis of hope built on foundations of money, drugs and exploitation.” Less judgmentally, Grantland’s Kevin Nguyen focuses on two new books set in Queens, recommending High As the Horses’ Bridles by The Millions’ own Scott Cheshire, which is no Brooklyn hipster novel: his opening scene (“among the finest published this year”) has a 12-year-old offering a prophecy of Armageddon.
Was Miami made for the mystery novel? The most iconic mysteries and detective novels are anchored firmly in their sense of place, and no place is more hospitable to commodifiable crime and violence than sunny South Beach. If it’s more Florida weirdness you’re after, look no further than our own Nick Moran.
“’When I finish reading one of her stories, I always feel understood and somehow forgiven for being human,’ Mr. George said. ‘It may simply come down to wisdom. Like the greats, Edith has it.'” Steve Almond gives an overview of Edith Pearlman‘s writing and publication history for The New York Times Book Review in the wake of the release of her latest collection, Honeydew, which Josh Cook recently reviewed for The Millions.
“It is a sad irony that the snake’s rattle, which functions as a warning device, is widely regarded as a bellicose drumroll, or war-cry, instead. It may well have been in a mood of remorse for having killed a rattlesnake on impulse that [William] Bartram, vowing solemnly that he ‘would never again be accessory to the death of a rattle snake,’ painted his marvelous portrait of a coiled rattler.” Christopher Benfey on Rattlesnake Island, a sanctuary set up to protect the woodland serpents from their greatest danger — us.
“Getting too quickly to where you want to go, getting there too smoothly, is antithetical to thinking through complex issues. You want roadblocks, confusion, chaos, and doubt. Unexpected, wonderful things come out of this approach.” Jeff VanderMeer provides a master class for Publisher’s Weekly on novel revision, explaining in five steps how his new book Borne arrived at its final incarnation. And for more shop talk, see VanderMeer’s interview with The Kills author Richard House from our own pages a couple of years back.