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.”
“In order to overcome their creative challenges, the authors I interviewed didn’t need to write prettier sentences: They needed to become more disciplined, more generous, braver. Literature seems to require these qualities of us, somehow, both in writing and in reading.” Joe Fassler‘s “By Heart” series at The Atlantic provides us with another year’s worth of writing wisdom, including advice from Alexander Chee, Michael Chabon, Lydia Millet, et al. We also highly recommend the conversation between Chee, Emily Barton, and Whitney Terrell about the decade each of them took to see their novels realized in the world.
Are you the type of reader who craves the food described in novels like our own Nick Moran? Then take The Guardian’s “Food in fiction” quiz. Sample question: “According to the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, what kind of food is eaten tomorrow, yesterday, but never today?”
Christopher Lee, perhaps best known to American audiences as the man who played Count Dooku (Star Wars) and Saruman (Lord of the Rings), is also an accomplished singer and musician. Evidently, he’s also quite literary, as his most recent project — The Metal Knight — demonstrates. To wit: the album was inspired by Don Quixote. (Trailer here.)
According to Gilles Deleuze, “the lives of philosophers are rarely interesting.” This may have come as a surprise to Jacques Derrida, who once spent a couple days in jail after cops in the Prague airport tried to frame him for smuggling weed. (This incident gets ample coverage in a new biography of the scholar).
Ta-Nehisi Coates isn’t exactly sure why white people love his book so much. It is indisputable that they do love it, though; Coates’ Between the World and Me is a runaway bestseller and he is also the recipient of one of this year’s MacArthur Foundation “Genius grants.”