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.
"We find ourselves in a swarm of fellow starstruck souls outside the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, churning, squirming." 25 years after the publication of Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe returns to the subject of Wall Street. You can also check out my review of his most recent novel, Back to Blood, over here.
Canonical literature isn't the only way to learn about America. The bestseller list can be equally as telling. Matthew Kahn is reading 100 years of No. 1 bestsellers from 1913 to 2013. He blogs about the books and discusses the project in an interview with Salon's Laura Miller. When Miller asks what makes a bestseller, he claims, "A lot of it is just a matter of accessibility. A focus on plot and character rather than structure and the prose itself."
"Write a short story from the point-of-view of a babysitter who one summer night witnesses something she never expected to see in her life, and then do a 'find and replace' in your Word doc until each instance of 'babysitter' becomes 'Navy SEAL.'" Leigh Stein shares some "Writing Prompts for Girls and Women" with The Rumpus. Pair with our own Emily St. John Mandel's review of Leigh Stein's The Fallback Plan.
Recent Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes about the difference between publishing your first book and your second book for Ploughshares. Let's just say it's the difference between champagne and "all the whiskey." Pair with Zhanna Slor's Millions interview with Makkai in which they discuss that second book, The Hundred-Year House.