“Whenever I tried to invent a character or a situation, I felt a stab of guilt. I could hear my teacher’s quavering voice saying, Write what you know! Why had she insisted on this so vociferously?” Writing class mantras are easy to impart but they are also easily misinterpreted. A.X. Ahmad, author of The Last Taxi Ride and The Caretaker, learns this truth the hard way as he tries to become a writer following a personal upheaval. Pair with Ahmad’s Millions essay on “The Thriller, Reinvented.”
At The Nervous Breakdown, Micah McRary talks with Leslie Jamison about her use of POV, her new book of essays and whether her criticism might be dubbed “evasive biography.” You could also read our interview with Jamison or else read Ryan Teitman’s review of The Empathy Exams.
Today’s edition of Book Reviews Worth Reading: Kathryn Schulz‘s first official outing as the book critic for New York Magazine (on the late Anthony Shadid‘s House of Stone) and Anti-Matter author Ben Jeffery‘s take on Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory. (While you’re at it, you might as well read Elaine Blair nailing Houellebecq at the NYRB (in the second-best possible way)…or our own Bill Morris‘ défense.
“The past fascinates me obsessively, I suppose, because it’s such a strange phenomenon. The past was the present at some point, and it was just as boring as the present. What makes it so important? What gives it that luminous, exalted quality where it becomes the past?” John Banville addresses these and many other heady questions in his new novel, The Blue Guitar.