Granta has a new series in which authors explain how they arrived at successful opening sentences. In the latest installment, Colombian author Héctor Abad links the brain chemistry that inspired him to write his chosen sentence with the chemistry that inspired him to fall in love with his wife.
“Now, I ask you, what if all along it was as simple as joining this company to fill the part of me missing? What if some deranged wiring or disease has forced me to isolate myself away instead of considering being part of a team like the one here at your company? I feel pretty good right now, and I’m not even officially part of anything. Just even filling out this application is fixing me.” Quotes from Dan Kennedy’s poetic job interviews.
Veterans of writing workshops will know that a good story has a heavy dose of conflict. One can add it to a story in many ways, but one of the best and most reliable is to add a predator, either in the form of a threatening organisation or an animal or person with malicious intent. At the Ploughshares blog, Year in Reading alum Megan Mayhew Bergman reflects on predatory literature.
“You can’t be worrying how you sound. You can’t wonder whether you or your characters are likable or smart or interesting. You have to be inside the scene—the tactile world of tables and chairs and sunlight—attending to your characters, people who exist for you in nonvirtual reality.” Paris Review editor Lorin Stein writes for The New York Times about solitude in the age of the Internet and the future of the book.
New this week: The Dying Grass by William T. Vollmann; Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal; Gonzo Girl by Cheryl Della Pietra; How to Be a Grown-Up by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus; Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans; and The Night Stages by Jane Urquhart. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.