The introduction Junot Díaz wrote for Dismantle: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop has been adapted as a contribution to the ongoing conversation (of which The Millions has been a part) about writing programs at large and about MFA vs. NYC specifically. At issue is Díaz’s (rightful) assertion that an important topic – diversity – hasn’t been adequately addressed in evaluations of the supposed program and publishing dichotomy thus far. (Related: Sandra Cisneros’s “I Hate the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.”)
Last week, we discussed how Teju Cole has mastered literary Twitter, and that was before we knew that he tweeted a 4,000-word essay on immigration. “A Piece of the Wall” is composed of 250 tweets written during a seven-hour period and starts with: “I hear the sound of faint bells in the distance. It is like a sound in a dream, or the jingling at the beginning of a Christmas song.”
“Russia’s most celebrated writers – including Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Nabokov, Bulgakov, Solzhenitsyn and Mandelstam – are often depicted as solitary geniuses. But many of their works were the fruits of creative partnerships with their wives. Far from being passive typists, they served as editors, researchers, translators, publishers and more.”
“According to the biography, Hadden designed the fact-checking system with the thought that putting a male writer and a female researcher together in a quasi-adversarial situation would create a sexual dynamic that could lend energy to the process.” Calvin Trillin’s memories of the Time offices in the early 1960s are at times more Mad Men than Mad Men.
Anyone who’s read The Divine Comedy knows that rivalries and petty grudges are timeless. To further prove the point, Mallory Ortberg provided this list, which details the cattiest lines from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Sample quote: “Why do unskilled and ignorant souls disturb him who has skill and knowledge?”