“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.”
Waxwing, a new literary journal, has published its first issue online. The journal’s editors state that their mission is “to include American writers from all cultural identities — in terms of race, ethnicity, indigenous tribe, gender, class, sexuality, age, education, ability, language, religion, and region — alongside international voices, published bilingually.”
If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.
From The Rumpus, a new short (short) story by George Saunders, excerpted from Life is Short – Art is Shorter: In Praise of Brevity, with an introduction by David Shields and Elizabeth Cooperman.