When John Steinbeck wasn’t busy writing 600-page novels, he might have been a Cold War CIA spy. In 1952, Steinbeck approached the CIA and suggested he could do some spying on an upcoming European trip. “The pace and method of my junket together with my intention of talking with great numbers of people of all classes may offer peculiar advantages,” he wrote to an agent.
In The Guardian, Year in Reading alum Joshua Ferris writes a tribute to the novelist Jim Shepard, who taught him at UC Irvine when Ferris was a student there in the early aughts. Ferris makes a case that Shepard single-handedly settles a modern debate: “A lot of critics dislike the professionalisation of creative writing. They have never had Shepard in a workshop.”
“Every story I have ever told has a kind of breach to it, I think. You could say that my writing isn’t quite right. That all the beginnings have endings in them.” Lidia Yuknavitch, who recently published an essay, “There is No Map for Grief,” in the Millions, now has an essay on violence, beauty and and storytelling in Guernica.