“Writers are outsiders, and usually not by their own choosing. It’s why they’re writers. If they didn’t feel alienated from human experience, they wouldn’t feel so drawn to writing to make sense of their lives. It’s not the outsider’s facility for language that makes her a writer — many a student body president or homecoming queen can turn a phrase — but her ability to howl at the moon, on the page.” Karen Karbo writes for Powell’s Books’s blog about how much publishing has changed in the last 20-some years, but she also has a lot of great words about why people would want to deal with writing and publishing in the first place. Pair her smart essay with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s piece “Practical Art: On Teaching the Business of Creative Writing.”
In a time of crisis, any decision is better than no decision at all. That line–credited to Theodore Roosevelt–is pop conventional wisdom. An excellent piece at Aeon explores the full implications of the line, and may just convince you that your next impossible choice should be made by a soothsayer, a lottery, or a flipped coin.
What would happen if you had a clock to countdown the exact number of days until you died? Our own Mark O’Connell discovers the paranoia of having the Days of Life app measure his mortality at The New Yorker. “Days of Life functions like a reductio ad absurdum of the logic of personal productivity. The pie chart becomes a special way of being afraid: an image of the self as a micro-economy of numbered days.” For a more uplifting version of O’Connell, check out his 2013 Year in Reading post.
The brief excerpt of The Late American Novel that appeared in the New York Times Magazine this past weekend was also the first appearance of “A Tiny New Culture Section With No Name,” part of the Magazine’s redesign. At the Magazine’s “behind-the-scenes” blog, Editor Adam Sternbergh talks about the tiny new section and has some very nice things to say about The Late American Novel as well.