“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.”
Tom Jenks, co-founder of Narrative Magazine (which charges writers $23 to submit), is releasing a 400-page, six-chapter craft book on the art of imaginative fiction titled A Poetics of Fiction. The information inside the book is billed as “more than useful—it’s essential and not readily available anywhere else”—maybe that’s why it retails for $225.
Gordon Willis, the celebrated cinematographer who worked on The Godfather films and Annie Hall, passed away Sunday at the age of 82. The Paris Review has posted a short "In Memoriam," which serves as both a wonderful introduction to the work of this artist and a knowing celebration of his work, complete with a video of Manhattan's bridge scene and an interview with Willis himself.
One of the biggest literary releases of the year is out today, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. Read the book's opening here. Another literary heavy hitter out today is The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst. One of Albanian writer Ismail Kadare's masterpieces, The Palace of Dreams, is now back in print in English, and Blake Butler's memoir Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia is now on shelves.
Millions staff writing appearing elsewhere: At In Character, my essay about Derrick Borte's The Joneses and the idea of the American impostor (ECW).