“I wanted to offer my students an alternative to the purely confessional mode. I wanted them to write about themselves without falling into a paralyzingly portentous tone. I wanted more humor in their work, more complexity, more detail, more balance—more good writing. I wanted fewer italicized passages, less use of the breathless present tense. I wanted no more tears in the workshop, no more embarrassing scenes.” Emily Fox Gordon writes about trauma narratives in the classroom, the trouble with writing as therapy, and the key differences between confessing and confiding in an essay for The American Scholar.
This year, the good folks at Slate and the Whiting Foundation kicked off a new literary prize, intended to reward authors for great second novels. To wrap up the year, they’ve asked several winners of the prize, including Akhil Sharma, Helen DeWitt and Daniel Alarcon, to write short pieces about objects that symbolize the writing process for their books. (Akhil Sharma chooses a stopwatch, while Eileen Myles chooses a can of Cafe Bustelo.)
Vintage International released Cormac McCarthy’s screenplay for The Counselor, the new Ridley Scott film which our own Nick Moran wrote about on Saturday. Also out: Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips; Identical by Scott Turow; The Last Animal by Abby Geni and The Luminaries by Booker Prize shortlister Eleanor Catton, which Martha Anne Toll reviewed for us on Monday. (For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-half 2013 Book Preview.)
The Hunger Games raked in $155 million in its opening weekend. That makes it the highest-grossing non-sequel debut of all time. Over at Salon, Laura Miller tracks the steps that led to the blockbuster’s mammoth success.