Laila Lalami recently wrote about “How History Becomes Story,” but writing an interesting and compelling history book sans fiction has its own challenges. Thankfully S.C. Gwynne offers some tips in a piece for the History News Network, including the hard-hitting reminder that “it is your job to force your facts into narrative form.”
Has Joan Didion become “the Ultimate Literary Celebrity“? In an article for the New Republic Laura Marsh says “yes,” and then explains how that happened. Marsh’s efforts pair well with Franklin Strong‘s recent Millions essay on “The Manliness of Joan Didion,” Joan Didion being a literary figure who easily adapts to any description.
Literary prizes are nothing new, but prizes that give writers real estate are a thoroughly modern development. At Salon, Michele Filgate investigates our odd new economy, in which lucky writers win leases to homes, inns and (in one case) a goat farm. You could also read our own Nick Ripatrazone on the Amtrak residency.
“These people may not take you seriously. And your boss might not either. Or your dentist or your best friend from middle school. But you who does take you seriously? Dictators. Dictators take you very seriously. Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and Augusto Pinochet, all rounded up writers and artists in short order. They could not afford to have the unpredictability of literature at large while they were trying to create a totalitarian state.” Wendy Willis on subversion through writing for The Rumpus.
Edvard Munch’s The Scream recently garnered a record breaking $119.9 million at Sotheby’s in New York. Despite the “tasty narrative potential” of the iconic artwork, the Pulitizer Prize winning art critic Holland Cotter thinks that the painting’s new owner spent their vast sum of money unwisely.
The new year is, of course, a time for resolutions, and Electric Literature has collected literary resolutions from Alexander Chee, Year in Reading alum Emily Gould, Yelena Akhtiorskaya, and many more. Coming out of the hectic holiday season, Jonathan Lee‘s resolution seems particularly apt: “My literary new year’s resolution is to read slower. I want to try and re-discover the kind of reading where you savor every page instead of thinking about unread emails, progress through the book, progress through the to-be-read pile, and the quantity of remaining tea bags in cupboard.”