What should you do if, horror of horrors, you find yourself appearing as a character in someone else’s book? Michelle Huneven shares her experience being fictionalized in an essay for The Paris Review. Her advice? “Don’t read too much into it. Cultivate lightness.” Pair with our profile of Huneven, “Not Lost, Just Rearranged.”
Reading War and Peace was always a challenge, but how much harder is it in an age of constant distraction? At Salon, Mike Harris, a self-confessed distraction addict, writes about his experience tackling the Russian classic. You could also read our own Kevin Hartnett on the book’s effect on perception.
Linda Chavers pens an important letter to black girls everywhere. She writes, “I am giving you the prologue. You must go forward accepting and understanding that no one will ever do it as well as you do, and no one will ever tell you that you do it better than anybody else.” Pair with our own Michael Bourne’s list of books that “shed light on the history and evolution of racism in America.”
"Notes: Finally, a Pokémon that gets it: the living epitome of the unbearable ennui that characterizes life in the modern age. Despite having the mass of a cement truck, the Snorlax has the calm bearing of a yogi. Its rhythmic snoring chimes the steadfast paternoster of enlightened meditation. This is one Pokémon that truly doesn’t give a shit. One cannot help but feel humbled to be in the face of divinity." The only thing that could make Pokémon Go any better would be playing it with Anthony Bourdain. At McSweeney's, Allen Zhang imagines the opportunity.
"In order to overcome their creative challenges, the authors I interviewed didn’t need to write prettier sentences: They needed to become more disciplined, more generous, braver. Literature seems to require these qualities of us, somehow, both in writing and in reading." Joe Fassler's "By Heart" series at The Atlantic provides us with another year's worth of writing wisdom, including advice from Alexander Chee, Michael Chabon, Lydia Millet, et al. We also highly recommend the conversation between Chee, Emily Barton, and Whitney Terrell about the decade each of them took to see their novels realized in the world.
"[L]et’s not pull punches — misogyny has disfigured how Dickinson’s story is told. We’re missing out on a fierce mind when we reduce her to a spinster perseverating alone in her room writing poems to the ether." A new Emily Dickinson exhibition proves the poet wasn't nearly as much of a recluse as we've been led to think, writes Daniel Larkin for Hyperallergic. Pair with this piece on Paul Legault’s English-to-English translations of her poetry, which "transports Dickinson into mostly fortune-cookie length snippets of contemporary English, a dialect spoken widely in urban pockets like Brooklyn, where increasing numbers of the highly educated and literary classes live, procreate, keep each other amused, and make their own cheese."
In a longform piece for The Atlantic Diane Saverin writes about Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, the predominantly male tradition of wilderness-writing, and how Dillard found and wrote about the wild while living in suburbia. She also wrestles with the question: "if the author conveys a resonant truth, does it matter what experiences led to the realizations?"