How do you know if the book you’re writing is going to fly or flop? Try writing the first 80 pages without worrying about the outcome as Meg Wolitzer does. “Eighty pages is enough pages for a writer to feel she’s accomplished something, but it’s not so many pages that, if she decides to put aside the book, she’ll feel as if she’s wasted her life,” she told the Daily Beast for its “How I Write” series. It must work because we loved The Interestings.
“I was enrolled in a writing program to imagine a cultured life, not just to dream about the rewards of being a writer.” Rigoberto González for Publisher’s Weekly on why he attended and later returned to teach at a M.F.A. program.
Speaking of France: whether or not you find him disagreeable, Michel Houellebecq is pretty much guaranteed to elicit an emotional response from readers. His new opinion piece in The New York Times is no different. Here’s a review of Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory that refers to him as a “petty misanthrope.”
“We are here to take creative risks and to do the sort of work that commercial broadcasters might be more reluctant to do. But we also have a real responsibility and a requirement to reflect a range of British communities.” Bestill our hearts, the BBC is adapting Vikram Seth‘s A Suitable Boy as its first period drama with a non-white cast, reports The Telegraph. Our own Lydia Kiesling described Seth’s epic as “a spectacularly romantic novel, weddings all over,” but noted sadly that “it portends falling in love with the man you can marry, in lieu of the one that you can’t.”
“Barbarian Days by William Finnegan. Made me realize my whole life has been pretty much a waste. I suspected this anyway; he explained why: because I’d not surfed.” Geoff Dyer over at the New York Times on the best book he’s read recently. Our own Janet Potter interviewed Dyer on the release of his most recent book, White Sands.
Máirtín Ó Cadhain is probably the most famous Irish writer you haven’t heard of, if only because he wrote all his masterworks in Irish rather than English. His best novel, Cre na Cille, has a simple and arresting premise: a town in Connemara has a graveyard in which the dead can speak. In The Guardian, Kevin Barry (who we interviewed) reads the novel for the first time.