What inspired Wally Lamb’s latest novel, We Are Water? Part of it came from his experience teaching writing at a women’s prison in Connecticut for the past 14 years. He spoke to The Missouri Review about what it’s like to teach “the incarcerated wounded” and how they have influenced his work. “With my fiction, I’ve never been afraid to go to the dark places, but I think the women have made me more daring.”
“Over the course of our conversation, I’ve come to understand that he has not written (Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings) to provoke or to engender a self-serving sense of shock; he has written with a belief in the possibilities of liminal space and in the revelations that occur at the point of tension. The result is a book that jars, unequivocally, and that disquietingly brings to the surface the anguish of past and present America.” Stephen O’Connor’s poetic reimagining of the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved Sally Hemings has certainly raised some eyebrows. This interview with Melody Nixon at BOMB gives O’Connor a platform from which to explain his idea.
Leveling the kind of accusation that perhaps only such an esteemed writer can, Jonathan Franzen intimates that David Foster Wallace‘s nonfiction (such as “Shipping Out“) wasn’t exactly honest.
“Secret societies, camorras, mafias, et al., have no place in a detective story. To be sure, the murderer in a detective novel should be given a sporting chance; but it is going too far to grant him a secret society to fall back on. No high-class, self-respecting murderer would want such odds.” -From the much-quoted 1928 essay by SS Van Dine, noted art critic and mystery writer, on the 20 rules for writing detective stories. (via Guardian)
In The Atlantic, Johnathan A. Knee writes about how curation and aggregation can be more profitable than content creation. That is the idea behind BookLamp, a new search engine based on books’ content and writing style, not sales data. “At times, being able to ignore the marketing data can be good for the recommendation,” explains CEO Aaron Stanton.