“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.”
In spite of the title of her blog post, Lily Meyer doesn’t think Ann Patchett is really an enemy of Zadie Smith. Instead, she thinks the two authors play opposing roles in her life, thanks largely to the different effects their books have on her perceptions. At the Ploughshares blog, she contrasts their novels, using excerpts from White Teeth and Bel Canto. Related: Kevin Charles Redmon’s review of Patchett’s novel State of Wonder.
We’ve written about the newly published Laura Ingalls Wilder memoir several times, but a new review in the LA Times calls attention to one of the most interesting questions raised by the work: how much influence did Wilder’s daughter Rose Wilder Lane, an accomplished author in her own right, have on the final Little House books?
David Risher founded the nonprofit Worldreader program in 2009 to distribute Kindles to children in the developing world. His aim was to increase literacy. Today the program has shared over 200,000 e-books with children in Ghana and Kenya, and Risher and his colleagues hope to allocate 10,000 reading devices by 2013.
At the Poetry Foundation’s website, Ruth Graham tackles a strangely ubiquitous question: how does a couple go about choosing a wedding poem? (For context, it helps to keep the following quote in mind: “the aesthetics of [a personal] wedding, at least for couples of a certain age and posture, are practically set in stone: indie pop music, mason jars, white Christmas lights, wildflowers.”)
Azadeh Moaveni writes about what it was like to own her dog, named London, in Iran: “Most Turks, like most Iranians, recoiled from dogs as though they were grotesque vermin; only ‘guard’ dogs, charged with protecting humans and their goods, were deemed less offensive, though still repellent.” To Moaveni, it was like cultural rebellion.