“It has been said of the Beatles that there is not a clunker of a song in their oeuvre because they simply never let the bad stuff get released. The same might be said of Nabokov—for ‘Camera Obscura’ shows that he was indeed capable of writing a second-rate novel. (He knew it, and rewrote it.)” John Colapinto looks at Nabokov‘s retranslation of Laughter in the Dark for The New Yorker.
“In the twenty-first century, the lyric essay at its worst is a utility or an app; at its best, it’s a cross-hatch of a genre in which things cross over; implicitly chiasmic, it’s a space in which incompatible discourses are allowed to intermingle; wherein poetry and prose create productive frictions, enabling a new, unnatural form, illegible and readable for the first time.” Mary Cappello writes about the lyric essay and Djuna Barnes.
Over at The Paris Review, basketball columnist (and really great poet) Rowan Ricardo Phillips has written a compelling essay on Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, hot streaks, and the tenability of genius. Jacob Lambert’s essay on reading about (and not watching) sports is a nice complement.
“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.
Tony Tulathimutte offers advice on lowering word count: Merge scenes, murder characters, quit writing altogether: “merge scenes, murder characters, ‘start as close to the end as possible’ (Kurt Vonnegut), quit writing altogether.” Pair with this Millions piece on writing slowly and by hand.