Last year, Millions staffer Bill Morris reported on a group of Elaine’s regulars seeking “ways to repay Elaine [Kaufman] for all the encouragement she gave to writers and other creative people” at her restaurant. What emerged was The Table 4 Writers Foundation, and this year the group is ready to award its latest batch of $2,500 grants to promising writers. The application deadline is October 20.
“Barbarian Days by William Finnegan. Made me realize my whole life has been pretty much a waste. I suspected this anyway; he explained why: because I’d not surfed.” Geoff Dyer over at the New York Times on the best book he’s read recently. Our own Janet Potter interviewed Dyer on the release of his most recent book, White Sands.
Writers are told that they should outline their work. Elizabeth Gilbert has outdone us all by writing a 70-page outline for The Signature of All Things. “I have no German Romantic idea about work. There’s no fugue state, you know? I could no more write at 3 a.m. than I could with a quill pen. I keep farmer’s hours and I have that sort of plotting and plodding way,” she told The Daily Beast.
Most writers, unless they’re lucky enough to have an ideal place in which to work, make do with the best space available. For Colum McCann’s father, the shed in his backyard, which “always smelled damp inside, as if the rain rose up out of the carpet,” sufficed for the fiction he wrote after coming home from work. At Page-Turner, the National Book Award winner and Year in Reading alum remembers his father’s retreat.
This week saw the release of The Jaguar’s Children, a novel set on the Mexican border that draws on author John Vaillant’s experience in his wife’s home state of Arizona. At The Walrus, Sasha Chapman provides more background on Vaillant in her review of the book, which notes the importance of jaguars in Mexican symbology.
“Who was Bret Easton Ellis describing when he tweeted: ‘The best example of a contemporary male writer lusting for a kind of awful greatness that he simply wasn’t able to achieve’?” The Guardian has a delicious quiz of literary putdowns. And speaking of fighting, let’s talk about books about violence.