A couple months ago, I linked to a new Granta series in which authors select one of their own first sentences and recall how they came to it. This week, Patrick French explains the first sentence of a nonfiction piece titled “After the War” (available in Granta 125) by digging up an old photograph that shows how the Edwardian English were “stitched and machined into a grid of expectations.”
“I found it hard to escape the sensation that I’d be teaching inside a giant metaphor.” Rachel Kadish once taught a creative writing class in a bomb shelter, but rather than stifling her students’ work, it allowed her to see how writing can act as a shelter, too.
Toni Morrison wrote an obituary for James Baldwin in The New York Times, published December 20, 1987 and online for you to read. “Jimmy, there is too much to think about you, and too much to feel. The difficulty is your life refuses summation – it always did – and invites contemplation instead. Like many of us left here I thought I knew you. Now I discover that in your company it is myself I know.” Justin Campbell reflects on Baldwin, race, and fatherhood.
Caleb Crain has strong reservations about the New York Public Library’s proposed $350 million remodel, or, in his view, the library’s shift away from “its research mission.” To put his concerns bluntly, he asks, “What problem is the Central Library Plan (CLP) meant to solve?” He then vividly enumerates the problems with the proposal. For those of you wondering what can be accomplished with an essay, there’s this: Mr. Crain’s got him landed on one of the project’s advisory panels as a result.
It almost sounds too terrifying to be true. Your book is reviewed by Christopher Hitchens in the New York Times Book Review and he opens with: “This is an extraordinarily irritating book” (and it gets worse from there, and deservedly so). It happened to David Mamet and his new book The Secret Knowledge.