“These poets foreground elaborate and mythically transgressive evocations of eros in which stylistic excesses counter the violent excesses of homophobia and racial marginalization. The queer Baroque is, fundamentally, a poetry of radical ambivalence.” On Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones.
In the Times, Dwight Garner reviews the new edition of Bartlett’s Familiar Black Quotations, a compendium of quotes from notable black writers dating from ancient times to the present. Among other figures, Thurgood Marshall, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston and Cory Booker all have quotes in the book.
The fine folks at Norton have made all of Patricia Highsmith’s books available in eBook format, and to celebrate the move, they’ve crafted a website dedicated to the author’s work. Choose Your Highsmith features a recommendation engine while will instantly pick a Highsmith book to match your selected criteria. There’s also a great video in which Alison Bechdel, Robert Weil (Highsmith’s editor at Norton), Joan Schenkar (Highsmith’s biographer), and Terry Castle share their love for the author of the Mr. Ripley series.
How do you know if the book you’re writing is going to fly or flop? Try writing the first 80 pages without worrying about the outcome as Meg Wolitzer does. “Eighty pages is enough pages for a writer to feel she’s accomplished something, but it’s not so many pages that, if she decides to put aside the book, she’ll feel as if she’s wasted her life,” she told the Daily Beast for its “How I Write” series. It must work because we loved The Interestings.
This week Margaret Atwood tweeted a photo of her and Alice Munro drinking champagne in a “secret lair.” There’s no denying it — technology has changed the way we tell stories. Atwood and 16 other writers, from Victor LaValle to Lee Child, discussed how technology influences their work in The New York Times. “There’s nothing worse for plots than cellphones. Once your characters have one, there’s no reason for them to get lost or stranded,” Rainbow Rowell said.
David Denby wonders: After nearly 150 years have passed since its initial publication and countless imitators have blunted its artistic radicalism does Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground still pack a punch? For more contemporary readings of Dostoevsky, see Rob Goodman’s recent article on forensics, The Brothers Karamazov and the death of the courtroom drama.