“What I didn’t know then was that these decorations evolved from the Jewish menora, the Hebrew festival of lights. I don’t think my mother knew that either, but if she did she never mentioned it. And I certainly never contemplated the resemblance of a sleigh to a cradle. A sleigh is basically a very large cradle.” Mary Ruefle on Christmas trees.
Millions writer Sonya Chung has a trenchant essay up at Huffington Post on the topic of writing and motherhood: "Art Before Life: Questioning the Parenthood Question."
I've got another post up about Nadeem Aslam's Maps for Lost Lovers at the LBC Blog. I've been going back and forth with Sam (of Golden Rule Jones), so check out his posts, too.Calvin Trillin talks turducken and other things Cajun in the most recent issue of National Geographic. The piece is typical Trillin, funny and featuring mouth-watering descriptions of various regional delicacies. (Much like the articles collected in a favorite book of mine, Trillin's Feeding a Yen)Jim Crace discusses his Guardian column, The Digested Read, "The idea of rewriting a book in the style of the author in just 500 or so words is a gift to any satirist, and it remains the only outlet in the print media where publishers' hype always gets treated with the irreverence it deserves." A collection of the columns is out in EnglandThe CS Monitor takes a look at the self-publishing craze: "IUniverse, which prints several thousand books annually, reports submissions are up 17 percent in the first six months of this year."A couple of new McSweeney's offerings that you may or may not have seen already. Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, and Some Other Things... is anthology for young adults, edited by Lemony Snicket and with stories by Nick Hornby, John Scieszka and Neil Gaiman, among others. Meanwhile Issue #17 of their Quarterly Concern is also out. According to Amazon: "Issue 17 is not an ordinary issue of McSweeney's. It is, however, an ordinary bundle of mail, stacked and rubber-banded, containing the usual items: a recent issue of Yeti Researcher, a sausage-basket catalog, a flyer for slashed prices on multi-user garments, a couple letters... the usual. Also: the debut of a DVD quarterly, featuring never-before-seen work by Spike Jonze and David O. Russell. Also: stories."
At Slate, our own Mark O’Connell delves into the history of the self-interview, which you can find many examples of over at The Nervous Breakdown. Mark cites examples of self-interviews by prominent writers, including Tennessee Williams, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Year in Reading alum John Banville.