I’ve long thought that New Orleans is the greatest city in America and that it’s nigh impossible to make it much better. That was before Tulane University announced that Salvage the Bones and Men We Reaped author Jesmyn Ward will be joining their faculty. Let it be thus known: on July 1, 2014, New Orleans will get even better than I could’ve imagined.
At The Chronicle of Higher Education, Rachel Toor channels George Orwell, immortal champion of good writing in English, to help young scholars avoid the ghastly prose style that dominates contemporary academic writing.
I’ve written before about Literary Enemies, a series at the Ploughshares blog in which two writers are shown to have opposing sensibilities. This week, Lily Meyer argues that Flannery O’Connor and Marilynne Robinson are a worthy addition to the series, as the former contracts narrative space and the latter expands it. Sample quote: “It seems to me that Marilynne Robinson’s project, in her books suffused with Protestant belief, has nothing to do with Jesus or with God."
Joe Fassler interviews recent MacArthur Genius and Year-in-Reading alum Viet Thanh Nguyen on the myth of overnight success, balancing an academic career while still finding time to write novels and the sacrifices all writers must make. Over at Electric Literature.
When Kurt Vonnegut wasn't writing, he was drawing. "The making of pictures is to writing what laughing gas is to the Asian influenza," he said. The New Yorker has a slideshow of 10 of his cubist sketches. You can find more of his doodles in the new book Kurt Vonnegut Drawings.
In the annals of Southern literature, Elizabeth Spencer isn’t as well-known as Faulkner or Flannery O’Connor, but she is, Wilton Barnhardt writes, “one of America’s best short-story writers.” The 92-year-old author’s new collection marks “65 years and counting of superb writing,” he argues.