I’ve written before about the First Sentence series at Granta. The magazine asks a prominent writer to explain how they came to write an opening line. Recently, they asked Bear Down, Bear North author Melinda Moustakis to talk about the beginning of her story “River So Close”: “She’s a good-for-nothing chummer.” You could also read Jonathan Russell Clark on the art of the opening sentence.
"In 1865, Karl Marx confessed that he considered his chief characteristic 'singleness of purpose,' and that his favorite occupation was 'bookworming.' Five years later, Oscar Wilde wrote in an album called 'Mental Photographs, an Album for Confessions of Tastes, Habits, and Convictions' that his distinguishing feature was 'inordinate self-esteem.'" Over at The New Yorker, take a look at how Marcel Proust's questionnaires inspired a generation of question-by-by-question introspection.
Geoff Dyer is fond of taking potshots at literary academics. He devotes considerable time in one of his novels to a professor whose speech at a conference goes off the rails. Which is why it’s odd that, in mid-July, the author showed up at a conference devoted to -- what else? -- his own work. (It's apropos to point out here that our own Mark O'Connell wrote a great essay for Slate about Dyer.)
"If I've sat on my arse all day—and it’s definitely my English arse I sit on, not an American ass—then what I most want to do come evening is sit on it some more," Geoff Dyer loves to sit. He and other authors discussed why the standing desk is overrated at The New Republic. Here's where our writers work.
The LA Times' Festival of Books is happening this weekend, and attendees have not one, not two, but three chances to see Millions staffers Patrick Brown and Edan Lepucki. On Saturday, Patrick will be hanging out on the Nuts and Bolts publishing panel, and on Sunday, he'll be moderating one entitled Art of Immersion. Also on Sunday, Edan will moderate the Visionary Eyes fiction panel with Aimee Bender, Mark Leyner, Ben Ehrenreich, and Elizabeth Crane.
You might have heard that a new Shirley Jackson book appeared on shelves this week. A collection of previously unpublished work, Let Me Tell You was published by Penguin Random House, which happens to be the place where Benjamin Dreyer, a lifelong Shirley Jackson fan, works as a copy chief and managing editor. At The Toast, he describes how it felt to edit his favorite writer.
"6:00 am. Arise. Wrap your cardigan-sheathed hands around a mug of hot cardamom lemon water; squint into the distance from your craftsman veranda. Breathe authentically. Pick off a passing man with your bespoke porch rifle." Okay ladies, time to mark your vagendas. Comedian Sarah Schaefer brilliantly trolls conservatives in the wake of a tweet gone viral. And in the spirit of more man-hating, pair with our own Edan Lepucki's case against one of literature's ur-creeps, Mr. Rochester.