“There is one rule [to writing biography] that all who try their hand at it come to know: until the protagonist reveals his or her character—his or her inner self—what the biographer produces is less a life than a report, an autopsy rather than the record of a séance.” David Levering Lewis writes for The American Scholar about biography and writing “the lives of African-American figures, and [finding] in them the story of our times.”
“We always try to create the worst opinion of everything there is in the United States, as a response to what they have always done with us. The only difference is that we do not write falsehoods about the United States. I told you that we emphasize the worst things, that we omit things that could be viewed as positive, but we do not invent any lies.” This excerpted interview with Fidel Castro over at The Paris Review is enlightening for its candor and frankness.
An intrepid (or sadistic?) YouTube user created a “No Cry Challenge” video playlist composed of nineteen videos that will surely punch you in the gut. These things are heavy and heart wrenching. I don’t want to mislead you at all: they could very well ruin your entire week. The first one in the queue is especially devastating; I recommend doing it last. After you watch a couple, go outside and take a walk. Hug a family member, a pet or a friend. (via)
Ever thought that writing a novel was like a video game you just couldn’t win? In the new video game The Novelist, players count pages not bodies as they try to help the protagonist balance writing with his family life. “There’s no winning or losing,” designer Kent Hudson said. “[M]y hope is that as you’re presented with the same fundamental question … over the course of the game, that you start to learn about your own values.”
Francine Prose has a new novel out this week, while Elizabeth McCracken has a new story collection on shelves. Also out: Chestnut Street by the late Maeve Binchy; In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman; Terms and Conditions by Robert Glancy; The Selected Letters of Elia Kazan; and new paperback editions of The Color Master by Aimee Bender and The Infatuations by Javier Marias.
The New Yorker’s book blog continues to host “Questioningly,” a so-called Twitter game show. The most recent installment featured the imagined Facebook status updates of literary figures, and was hosted by Ben Greenman. Who, might I add, is on a roll these days over at McSweeney’s Internet Tendency too.