“I have a theory: the thing that makes you a unique writer hasn’t got so much to do with your influences as it does with how you became a writer in the first place. I think your preferences—your obsessions—come just as much from the first sorts of things you consumed and were passionate about. Whether that’s pop music, comics, “lowbrow” fiction, soap operas, or anything else, the thing that matters most is what started you writing stories.” Amber Sparks writes about “lowbrow” influences and the many paths to becoming a storyteller in an essay for Electric Literature.
This week in book-related internet graphics: Penguin has created an interactive map of literary genres, complete with some very creatively shaped “countries”. As Electric Literature points out, “the fact that the map is aimed at current self-publishing authors explains why YA is it’s own continent while genres like Gothic fiction don’t exist.”
New this week: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders; Shadowbahn by Steve Erickson; The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky; All That’s Left to Tell by Daniel Lowe; The Weight of Him by Ethel Rohan; The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble; and Be My Wolff by Emma Richler. For more on these and other new titles, go read our most recent book preview.
The Table 4 Writers foundation, set up in the memory of the restauranteur Elaine Kaufman, recently chose the winners of its first round of $2,000 grants for writers. The winners will be honored March 7 at the New York Athletics Club, where Gay Talese will also be recognized with a lifetime achievement award.