“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.”
A true genius is someone who’s talented and accomplished enough to work in the publishing/literary crucible of New York City, but who’s also smart enough to know that working in New York City is nothing compared to working in Key West, Florida. That’s right: the Key West Literary Seminar is hiring.
Tom Wolfe is back with his new novel Back to Blood (our review) and Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins is out. Lemony Snicket is kicking off a new series for kids, illustrated by artist Seth. Finally, do you want to know everything about everything? The Onion is looking out for you with its new Onion Book of Known Knowledge: A Definitive Encyclopaedia Of Existing Information.
Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh is a downright mesmerizing elegy to the eclectic singer-songwriter. Part idiot-savant, part deliberate curmudgeon , Vic Chesnutt (who Rolling Stone has called one of the greatest songwriters of all time) was notoriously difficult to spend a lot of time around. Hersh stopped by Electric Literature for an interview about the book and about losing her dear friend Vic. Bonus: for anyone unfamiliar with Chesnutt’s work, this video will get you close.
Why do the British tell the best children’s stories? Perhaps because their culture has remained in touch with its pagan folklore, whereas in the United States, more pragmatic tales of morality, Christian obedience, and bootstrap-lifting rose to prominence. Also, picture books: general good thing for children or roadmap to total the moral collapse of society?