“They’re pictures, not images; displays, not shots; illustrations, not compositions. They are respectful displays of performance—of the demonstrative theatrical antics into which Anderson lets his performers lapse.” Richard Brody on the film version of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice.
As a child, Xiaolu Guo hunted birds and toads to survive. Now, as a writer in Britain, she's written a memoir about her difficult childhood, which you can read more about in this review in The New Statesman. Sample quote: "Perhaps it is no coincidence that the reason that Guo gives for deciding to write in English is to be free of Chinese government censorship, a process that she describes as the wearing down of a rock’s sharp edges to a smooth pebble."
Did your MFA program offer impractical courses like "Problems in Modern Fiction"? At the Ploughshares blog, Rebecca Makkai offers some suggestions for more useful classes, such as "Introduction to Despair," "Pretending You’re Talking to Terry Gross When You’re Alone in the Car," and "The Art of the Flirty Author Photo Grimace." Pair with: Our interview with Makkai.
“It’s likely Lucia would have felt more comfortable watching a bull be gored in a Mexico City arena or huddling among winos on a corner in Oakland than she ever felt at her first place on posh Mapleton Hill.” Elizabeth Geoghegan for The Paris Review on Lucia Berlin, whose A Manual For Cleaning Women is out now.
Colson Whitehead has some advice: write the book that "scares you shitless." In a recent, wide-ranging interview with John Freeman, the Underground Railroad author talks about why he wrote his latest novel, along with his methods for sussing out good ideas. You could also read our review of The Underground Railroad.