What’s the greatest tool to create suspense? An unreliable narrator, according to Gillian Flynn, who is a master of them if you’ve read Gone Girl. She discussed how to write a good thriller, why she doesn’t believe in guilty pleasure reading, and her ambitious quest to read every Pulitzer Prize-winning novel in chronological order in a New York Times “By the Book” interview. Pair with: Our conversation about Gone Girl.
Recommended Reading: a piece from the New York Review of Books blog on modern attention spans and what they mean for literature. Hint: it’s not looking too promising. Tim Parks closes with a prediction that “the novel of elegant, highly distinct prose, of conceptual delicacy and syntactical complexity, will tend to divide itself up into shorter and shorter sections, offering more frequent pauses where we can take time out. The larger popular novel, or the novel of extensive narrative architecture, will be ever more laden with repetitive formulas, and coercive, declamatory rhetoric to make it easier and easier, after breaks, to pick up, not a thread, but a sturdy cable.”
“Millennials are so frequently hyped as the first digital generation that people tend to forget that we were raised first and foremost with books. TV and the Internet may have shaped our identities, but so did old-fashioned, printed stories.” Everybody is tired of the word “millennial,” but this piece makes some great points about Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series and how it taught children to understand and appreciate their individuality.
Emily Smith discusses the place of zines in contemporary American politics, over at Ploughshares. As she puts it, “Zines, like street art, are allowed critical power through anonymity—a function newsstand periodicals simply can’t perform for the sake of reputation or the sacrifice of advertisers. In this way, zines are small-scale democracies.”
“There was a plan a few years ago, during the crisis of unaccompanied minors arriving on our southern border, to send a copy of The Beast, Óscar Martínez’s extraordinary account of Central American migration to the U.S., to every member of Congress. How many of them read it? And how many of those who read it changed their position? Did any anti-immigrant populist show an ounce of humanity or generosity as a result?” Daniel Alarcón, author of At Night We Walk In Circles, on recommending a book to the president.
“Trump has blocked me from reading his tweets. I may have to kill myself.” Stephen King responds to news that the U.S. President doesn’t want the author reading his Twitter account. Luckily, reports Entertainment Weekly, J.K. Rowling has stepped in, offering to DM King anything he misses (these are all sentences we regret having to write, fyi). See also: Elizabeth Minkel‘s consideration of Rowling’s second narrative thoughts.