“Although comfortable with solitude, he admits: ‘I couldn’t write all the time. As a writer, you have to come out into the world. I don’t have a Salinger or a Pynchon impulse. There are so many things to do that are interesting.’” Talking with Ian McEwan.
Toni Morrison wrote an obituary for James Baldwin in The New York Times, published December 20, 1987 and online for you to read. “Jimmy, there is too much to think about you, and too much to feel. The difficulty is your life refuses summation – it always did – and invites contemplation instead. Like many of us left here I thought I knew you. Now I discover that in your company it is myself I know.” Justin Campbell reflects on Baldwin, race, and fatherhood.
“Idea #2: Book opens to reveal it is hollow, contains one medium-sized onion. Review: ‘Multilayered… had me in tears.'” How to write a first novel that gets praised in the New York Times.
An excerpt of the lost and recently found Alexandre Dumas novel The Last CavalierAn assessment of poetic cliches in VQR. The surprise: some actually improve your chance of getting published.Jennifer Gilmore interviews the criminally underrated Max Apple.That novelists’ strike not working out so well.Despite some withering condescension, Robert Gottlieb has interesting things to say about John Steinbeck.Penguin UK offers up some alternative storytelling techniques with its We Tell Stories site. The first is a tale by Charles Cumming told by messages inserted into Google Maps. (Thx, Mrs. Millions)Books cops like. (Thx, Laurie)The trend of the massive hyper-expensive book continues.Daniel Radosh points out that the New York Times has, yet again, published a trend piece on bloggers getting book deals.And finally… The Catalog of Unfit Toys: Finding Delight in the Defective
In general, fact-checking isn’t the most glamorous part of a journalist’s career, which is why Michael Erard was surprised to find that a recent fact-checking session for an Al Jazeera article turned out to be among the most interesting conversations of his life. Why? His sources were linguists, and their job was to explain to him the workings of brand-new sign languages.
“An appeal for the revival of the negative book review, then, is a remonstration against forced and foppish praise, where everything is good and so nothing at all is good.” In The Baffler, Rafia Zakaria writes in praise of negative book reviews and decries the “enfeebling of literary criticism.” From our archives: our own Emily St. John Mandel writes about bad book reviews.