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.
“Limits stop you from living a life without limits,” writes Augusten Burroughs. “Of course, this is only an illusion. What limits really do is give you an acceptable excuse to avoid doing something.” (He’s talking about life, not Oulipo.) The piece is excerpted from his recent book, This Is How.
At The Rumpus, our own Nick Ripatrazone writes about his twin daughters, Amelia and Olivia, who taught him that, when it comes to twins, “there are two babies but three identities: one for each baby, and then the twin identity, an amorphous, shared mass of personality and action that makes Amelia fuss one night and Olivia the next.” The essay nicely complements Nick’s Millions piece on Andre Dubus.
In another excellent essay from LARB’s new site, Morten Høi Jensen takes a close look at the work of Martin Amis to discuss the theme of masculinity, the arc of his oeuvre, the seductiveness of his distinct tone and the dangers of falling for it. For more on Amis, check out our expose of Invasion of the Space Invaders, the near-forgotten first work by Amis in which the young author details the gritty world of arcade gaming.
In 2004, much of the literary world celebrated the hundredth anniversary of Bloomsday, aka the setting of James Joyce’s Ulysses. This year, we’re celebrating the hundredth anniversary of Dubliners, which our own Mark O’Connell once described as “a collection which writers of the short story form seem basically resigned to never surpassing.” At The Paris Review Daily, Skippy Dies author Paul Murray writes about his history with the book. You could also try to pass our eccentric James Joyce quiz.
From the book I’m reading right now: “My mother’s output, starred and pseudonymous, appeared regularly in one of those little, irregular periodicals so limited in readership that they might be called incestuous. Subscription was by invitation only, and contributors would go into a rage over a misplaced comma and brood for days if their poems were understood.”