Most writers, unless they’re lucky enough to have an ideal place in which to work, make do with the best space available. For Colum McCann’s father, the shed in his backyard, which “always smelled damp inside, as if the rain rose up out of the carpet,” sufficed for the fiction he wrote after coming home from work. At Page-Turner, the National Book Award winner and Year in Reading alum remembers his father’s retreat.
Waterboro Library in Maine has compiled a list of books about “Drowned Towns,” – “Mysteries and other fiction with a featured element of intentional submerging, inundating, and flooding of towns, villages, cities, and other places as a consequence of building dams and reservoirs for water supply, hydroelectric power, irrigation, flood management, and job creation.” Also known as “Reservoir Noir.”Rare art by Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson (via)AICN Books offers early looks at The Road by Cormac McCarthy and A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon.The Written Nerd looks at the ethics of “street dates,” the “do not sell before this date, or else!” restrictions that come with blockbuster books.The IHT looks at Gunter Grass’ new memoir, roughly translated as Peeling the Onion. Earlier this month Grass told the world that the book would reveal that he had been a member of the Waffen SS during World War II. Word has it, the book is unlikely to appear in the US any time soon.Google now lets you add a Book Search widget to your Web pages. The search engine giant has also announced that it will start making public domain books available in PDF form. Here’s an example.YPTR, in amusing fashion, takes up the question of DFW and whether he will produce a novel again.
Mark McGurl author of the book that got everyone talking about MFA programs, The Program Era, mounts a spirited defense against Elif Batuman’s much discussed review of the book. Among his ripostes: “One can be all for the deflation of liberal pieties without being a gleeful ignoramus about it, as though literary journalism needs its own Ann Coulter.” Zing!
The Nation expends about 7,500 words to say Malcolm Gladwell is a hack. The source of the umbrage: “a cheerful, conversational voice deployed in a perfectly paced dopamine prose that had the palliative effect of nullifying whatever concerns readers might have about this product or that problem.”
Recommended Reading: Ottessa Moshfegh on eating mayonnaise for the first time.
“As adults, we should hold each other’s work to high standards, and our own work to the highest of all. As writers, we shouldn’t settle for a single pale line. But before the poem is written, I say, we should lie to ourselves, the way we lied to that winded child. Before composition, we have to be gods.” Alex Chertok writes about literary pep talks for the Ploughshares blog.