“The internet teems with writerly advice, almost all of which suggests that creativity is served best by monasticism, a quiet life filled with pencils—but that kind of advice seems to take a very short view of history, overlooking the one classic way to rouse the capricious Muses: sexually transmitted disease.” According to The Hairpin, maybe it’s not an MFA you need, just syphilis. After all, it seems to have worked for James Joyce, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Oscar Wilde and many, many others.
I’ve written before about Matthew Jockers‘s claim, as reported and presented by the Paris Review, that there are only about 6 plots in fiction. Now Dan Piepenbring returns to the Review to respond to critics who and attempt to answer the questions “is it really possible to assign every word a reliable emotional valence? And even if the answer is yes, can we really claim that all the plots in the history of literature take so few basic forms?”
Good Books is an online book retailer that donates all of its proceeds to Oxfam. It’s also a big fan of trippy literary homage. In a collaboration with two creative studios, and without consulting the Hunter S. Thompson or Franz Kafka estates, the group’s released a promo that draws on some of the most “out-there” elements of both writers.
This graphic account of the uncomfortable on-stage conversation between Roxane Gay and Erica Jong at this year’s Decatur Book Festival comes from MariNaomi over at Electric Literature. Here are a few essays from The Millions that also deal with race, fatherhood, and fiction.
“In my adolescence people spoke of ‘café intellectuals,’ not with the respect due to a sect that transmits ideas within the cramped space of a table but with the contempt reserved for those who turn their backs on reality and take refuge in vain speculation.” Juan Villoro on the writing life in Mexico City’s cafés as part of the “Writing Life Around the World” series for Electric Literature.
Julie Delphy‘s second film as writer/director/actress is released in Europe this month. The subject is 16th century Hungarian/Transylvanian countess Erzsébet Bàthory, known for murdering young girls to bathe in their blood and considered by some the first female serial killer. Judging from the trailer, Delphy’s film doesn’t appear to equal earlier visions of the Bloody Countess (French Surrealist Valentine Penrose‘s hallucinatory biography, for example, or Terry Gilliam‘s Mirror Queen (Monica Bellucci) in The Brothers Grimm).
The London Review of Books Blog reports that the personal library of late novelist David Markson has been scattered among the stacks at New York’s Strand bookstore, filled with notes, check marks and underlined passages. Some comments found scrawled in his copy of DeLillo’s White Noise: “oh god the pomposity, the bullshit!” and “oh i get it, it’s a sci-fi novel!”