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.
“It’s likely Lucia would have felt more comfortable watching a bull be gored in a Mexico City arena or huddling among winos on a corner in Oakland than she ever felt at her first place on posh Mapleton Hill.” Elizabeth Geoghegan for The Paris Review on Lucia Berlin, whose A Manual For Cleaning Women is out now.
Read about Hitler’s vacation homes and how they shaped his image via propaganda in an excerpt from Hitler at Home by Despina Stratigakos at The New Republic. We reviewed Ben Urwand’s book The Collaboration: Hollywood’s Pact with Hitler, which discusses other propaganda surrounding the Nazi regime.
“The way (Yeats) puts down a man’s head & a woman’s head side by side, or face to face, is terrifying, two irreducible singlenesses & the impassable immensity between.” The Paris Review has published a brief, fascinating letter written by Samuel Beckett to his aunt Cissie Sinclair containing an original poem and some positive criticism of the painter Jack B. Yeats. Top it off with this essay by Elizabeth Winkler about language, style, and translation–and how any of that might help to make sense of Beckett’s convoluted legacy.
“Some people see things others cannot, and they are right, and we call them creative geniuses. Some people see things others cannot, and they are wrong, and we call them mentally ill.” The Atlantic has an excellent contribution to the age-old thesis that creativity and madness are inextricably linked–and tied, moreover, to mental illness–based in part on a sample of students at Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Pair with another essay on creativity and the “touch of madness” from our own archives.
Out this week: Five-Carat Soul by James McBride; Unforgivable Love by Sophfronia Scott; Brother by David Chariandy; The Second Sister by Claire Kendal; and Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.