Sometimes, when you read a lot of work by a single writer, you end up writing unconscious imitations of their work. The reliability of this effect raises an ourobouric possibility: what if you reviewed a writer’s fiction in their own style? At The Awl, Sarah Marian Seltzer reviews Henry James as Henry James. You could also read Charles-Adam Foster-Simard on binge-reading James’s fiction.
Maybe the Mayans were right about 2012. In a sign that the end times are surely nigh, MTV2 has decided to bring back Hollywood Squares “but with a modern twist.” The unfortunately-named Hip Hop Squares will feature Nick Cannon, Ghostface Killah, DJ Khaled, Lamarr Woodley and… Bam Margera?
In the Chicago Tribune, Julia Keller explains why all the year-end lists are a tiresome exercise: “What annoys and disappoints me, though, is the chilly retrospective nature of such lists. They drain all of the blood from the critic’s job. They require a cold, methodical calculation of passions long past. They’re about yesterday’s yearning. Compiling them is a bit like trying to remember why you used to be in love with so-and-so.” (Thanks, Laurie)
“Everyone says Anna Karenina is about individual desire going against society, but I actually think the opposite is stronger: the way societal forces limit the expression of the individual.” Here is Mary Gaitskill on Anna Karenina for The Atlantic’s By Heart series, in which writers reflect on some of their favorite passages in all of literature. We’ve brought you a bit on By Heart here, here, and here.
“Every single book or painting or piece of music exists and we take from it what we need and love and shape it into another narrative that goes out into the world or stays within us, so it’s this great thing of one narrative piling onto the next. It’s hard to define.” Miriam Toews talks with The Rumpus about her novel All My Puny Sorrows and the distinctions, or lack thereof, between autobiography and fiction.
“Getting too quickly to where you want to go, getting there too smoothly, is antithetical to thinking through complex issues. You want roadblocks, confusion, chaos, and doubt. Unexpected, wonderful things come out of this approach.” Jeff VanderMeer provides a master class for Publisher’s Weekly on novel revision, explaining in five steps how his new book Borne arrived at its final incarnation. And for more shop talk, see VanderMeer’s interview with The Kills author Richard House from our own pages a couple of years back.