Want to make your writing shorter? Revise more. At The New York Times, Danny Heitman discusses the art of brevity. “Like passengers in a lifeboat, all the words in a concise text must pull their own weight.” Pair with: Our own Edan Lepucki’s essay on the challenges and benefits of brevity.
“It may be true… that the internet will turn out to be ‘a giant empathy machine.’ And yet, as any reader knows, we’ve already had one for centuries.” Drew Calvert reviews The Novel: A Biography for the Los Angeles Review of Books and provides an argument for the novel in the digital age.
Take a vicarious trip to China via a special issue of Ninth Letter, a literary and arts journal published by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Including work by authors Madelaine Thien and Khaled Al Khamissi, the issue grew out of a residency sponsored by Sun Yat-sen University’s Center for English-language Creative Writing, the only such department of its kind in that country. Pair with this piece by Casey Walker about writing his novel Last Days in Shanghai, which is set in the boomtown of today’s new China.
Nowadays, we take it as a given that Tolstoy’s fame was guaranteed by his talent, but many of his contemporaries thought he’d never get a readership outside his native Russia. Why? His writing, as Rosamund Bartlett puts it in a comparison with Turgenev, was “unpolished, more uncompromising and altogether more Russian” than his peers’. If you generally prefer Dostoevsky, you’ll appreciate our survey of scholars on which author was greater. (h/t Arts and Letters Daily)