Add this to the roster of great literary takedowns. Apparently Evelyn Waugh once wrote the following about Proust: “Nobody told me he was a mental defective. He had no sense of time.” (This stands in stark contrast with the views of Aleksandar Hemon, who wrote in a recent Year in Reading piece that Swann’s Way is “one of those miraculous books that gets better with every re-reading.”)
In writing her novel The Last Neanderthal, which published this week, Millions staffer Claire Cameron relied on Jane Smiley’s motto for writing historical fiction: “you are there.” Bonus: Don’t miss our interview with Cameron, in which she describes her many “life-long obsessions.”
“Steinem welcomed them all—the rich, the celebrities, the climbers for the cause. She was a radical but, consciously, never an outsider. She enjoyed the world where she plied her trade as an entrepreneur of social change, and, with her mouth spray at hand, she had long since mastered the subterfuges of talking truth to power. You could call it consciousness-raising—on a wider canvas.” The New Yorker profiles Gloria Steinem in anticipation of her latest release, My Life on the Road.
The Morning News Tournament of Books is almost here, and to stoke our excitement, the editors drew up this neat-looking circular bracket. If you squint at the top left, you'll see our own Edan Lepucki, who's judging The Round House by Louise Erdrich and The Fault in our Stars by John Green.
Some writers find their voices by heading off to Europe. Others (like Thoreau in Walden) head off to the woods instead. At The Rumpus, David Biespiel writes about the year he moved to Vermont, and what it meant to see himself as "leaning into" his youth. Pair with our own Anne K. Yoder on Ken Kesey and the Oregon coast.
“I suppose the truth is I became a little self-conscious about people telling me how much they loved my sentences,” says James Salter in his interview with Jonathan Lee. “It’s flattering, but it seemed to me that this love of sentences was in some sense getting in the way of the book itself.” As it happens, our own Sonya Chung reviewed Salter’s latest book this week, and she, too, remarked on Salter’s desire “to ‘get past the great writer-of-sentences thing,’ and presumably the ‘writers’ writer’ thing.”
“We might then see the bear, and judge it best to run, receive the insult and deem it right to strike, but we could not actually feel afraid or angry.” Let’s hope you never get approached by a bear while hiking in the woods with trailblazing psychologist William James, who had some complicated ideas about feelings.