Julia Fierro is a writer we’ve featured before, and her first novel Cutting Teeth was published last month. But as she explains in a new piece, there was a stretch of time when she didn’t write at all. “I was so cruel to myself, so impatient, beating myself up daily for not writing,” she says. “It took seven years worth of teaching… before I returned to writing with solid commitment. And when I did sit down in front of my computer, I was a better writer.”
“Can we ever pinpoint a person’s true identity? … How can we point to something in the world with complete accuracy, without also being meaninglessly redundant? Harpo’s answer to ‘who are you?’ is a visual-gag version of the Buddha’s infuriatingly honest answer to the same question. When asked who he was, he would say, gesturing to himself: I am thathagatha (the one who is like this).” On Groucho Marx, nihilism, and the destruction of comedy over at Slate.
"This is how he justified what he did even as he knew what kind of parent he’d become, the kind that used to make him gag as recently as two months ago. The ones who blithely assumed their online friends were gluttons for punishment. Here’s my baby lying on his back! And here’s my baby also lying on his back! And how about this one: blurry baby on his back! Good God, the vanity of it all, the epic self-centeredness. He knew all this, and still he uploaded eleven pictures of Brian." An excerpt of Victor LaValle's new novel The Changeling. (You could also read our interview with the author from last year.)
How many writers actually know how a word processor functions? Chances are the answer is: not many. At Page-Turner, our own Mark O’Connell examines this odd state of affairs, which he became more cognizant of after reading Vikram Chandra’s new book, Geek Sublime.
The Guardian has put together an extensive section called "How to Write" with tips from the pros like Robert Harris, Antonia Fraser, and Catherine Tate on writing fiction, poetry, comedy, screenplays, memoirs, journalism, and books for children.David Foster Wallace links: DFW's Pomona syllabus (via) and "The last days of David Foster Wallace" in Salon (via). Very sad.Adjust your bookmarks. Pinky's Paperhaus has moved (and gotten a new name).Former Millions blogger Patrick Brown got a mention in an LA Times piece about Herman Wouk a couple weeks back.
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the "dispassionate first-person narrators" prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. "Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian."