In an essay for TriQuarterly Lia Purpura writes about Virginia Woolf‘s “moments of being” and their importance for contemporary writing. “Woolf’s particular flavor of modernism is rooted in the drive to gather, hold, and deepen moments, to make the shimmering moment of perception the base upon which “reality” rests. Her sensibility honors the fleeting, fragile instances of a person’s life.”
“Being someone who’s an outsider, there are so many ways in which the world acts on you or assigns narratives to you.” Literary Hub interviews author Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi about literature, identity, and her new novel, Call Me Zebra. From our archives: Nur Nasreen Ibrahim‘s review of Call Me Zebra.
Interested in writing a bestseller? You may want to check out Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers‘ newest book, The Bestseller Code. Or maybe not: “At times, it seems like Archer and Jockers are trying to retrofit a closed system. They found that best-sellers have lots of contractions—the better, they explain, to mimic contemporary speech—and exclamation points only rarely … They conclude that best-sellers consist of ‘shorter, cleaner sentences, without unneeded words,’ and that best-selling characters ‘make things happen.’ Active verbs predict best-sellers better than passive verbs. ‘Hesitation doesn’t keep pages turning,’ Archer and Jockers decide. After all that work, in other words, the algorithm ends up confirming the uncontested tenets of craft and style.”
Earlier this month, I wrote about Louis Menand’s recent New Yorker piece about The Life of Saul Bellow, a new biography of the Nobel laureate by Zachary Leader. Now, in the LRB, Andrew O’Hagan reads the book. Sample quote: “Bellow’s community was his subject and his subject was his voice.”
Sometimes, when you read a lot of work by a single writer, you end up writing unconscious imitations of their work. The reliability of this effect raises an ourobouric possibility: what if you reviewed a writer’s fiction in their own style? At The Awl, Sarah Marian Seltzer reviews Henry James as Henry James. You could also read Charles-Adam Foster-Simard on binge-reading James’s fiction.
“The Google Translate results feel less and less lucky as the sentence progresses, and with each new roll of the search engine dice.” Over the six years that Esther Allen was translating Argentine novelist Antonio Di Benedetto‘s classic, Zama, she would occasionally run lines through Google translate as an experiment in the ersatz. Pair with translator Alison Anderson on “Ferrante Fever” and what a great translation adds to the original work.