The Oxford American has made True Grit author Charles Portis’s “Motel Life, Lower Reaches” available online for the first time. The piece first appeared in an OA issue from 2003, and it’s also available in Escape Velocity, but you should still read it because it’s Charles Portis, damn it, and you’ve only one life to live in this world. (Related: Hobart just published their “Hotel Culture” issue, which is also worth your time.)
Hugo Lindgren, editor of The New York Times Magazine, participated in a pretty nifty Reddit Ask Me Anything installment. When one commenter asked him how long it takes to prepare each week’s Meh List, Lindgren wrote, “The Meh list never stops. The actual compilation of it is lickety split but the hunt for Meh is eternal.” He also admitted that two of his favorite magazine stories are Mark Jacobson’s “Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet” and John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” [Reg. Req.].
Craig Fehrman reviews Keith O’Brien’s Outside Shot, a book which follows the 2009-10 boys’ basketball team at Scott County High School in Georgetown, Kentucky. O’Brien’s book is much in the mold of Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights, writes Fehrman, in that it’s concerned with a “troubled town, precarious season, political resonance” – but it’s also a book that falters under the legacy of its predecessor.
“Writers teach, not writing per se, but how to engage in writing as a process and a means of perception. The actual work of writing is seldom sublime. It’s a struggle that grows more difficult if we avoid it. Writing is often excruciatingly slow and repetitive. Time, in slipping and sliding, makes itself felt and immediate. Words are the way in, but nothing is guaranteed. What writers or readers can do with language, or understand inside it, depends on what they know—on refining their sensibilities, on writing, revising, waiting, reading, writing, as though living in language were life and death.” Year in Reading alumna Jayne Anne Phillips writes for the Literary Hub about the importance of writing programs. For more on the debate, check out Hannah Gersen’s Millions essay.