“My scant respect for the trade to which I belong (from the most ancient of academicians to the most youthful of libelists) derives from a childhood home in which I grew used to mistreating and misusing almost all the seminal texts from the history of culture.” Javier Marias on the dangers of growing up with too many books.
“Why, after all, do writers write? What is the impulse, the insistence on story, on seeing and representing the world? It has little to do with technology although everything to do with narrative, which is a purpose that, on the surface, technology also seems to share. The difference is that the writer creates narrative with intention, whereas technology merely gathers, or processes, information, leaving interpretation, analysis, up to us.” Let’s just say David L. Ulin doesn’t think Joyce would work for Google.
Swarm and Spark, a new column at The Millions, invites you to write with your questions about publishing, the literary life, or writing. The column is written by two anonymous figures: a NYC editor with years in the industry and an MFA professor at a long-established program. Ask anything that has plagued, confounded, pleased or troubled you about your life in and around literature and you may be answered, always with respect: your question will be treated as anonymous as well. Send your true confessions, complaints and queries to [email protected].
“Part of what I realize now I was doing in Proxies was to integrate the incongruous aspects of my self: the child of the truck driver and Primitive Baptist self, the queer intellectual poet self, the professor without an office self, the prizewinner who was ‘midcareer’ before he was ’emerging,’ the middle-aged man at the entry-level rungs of the gig economy.” Go check out this interview with Brian Blanchfield over at The Rumpus. This is the second Blanchfield interview we’ve told you about, both worth taking a look.
Boldtype offers up a list of “10 Awesome Books to Give to Your Non-Reading Friends,” i.e. eye-candy gift books.
Last month, in a review for The Millions, Chris Barsanti called George Packer’s The Unwinding an “awe-inspiring X-Ray of the modern American soul.” Now, in The Guardian, Sukhdev Sandhu calls the book “decent, meticulous and concerned,” though it could have benefited from the “roiling prose-fire of Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi.”
To encourage first edition sales of Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage, his publishers are going to include “a special sheet of stickers designed by five Japanese illustrators.” If that sounds as corny to you as it does to me, then consider the fact that the book likely does not need any real marketing strategy whatsoever: when it came out in Japan, it sold over a million copies per week.
Edith Wharton is known as a novelist but she was also a wonderful hostess, whose guests (including Henry James) remember her as “kindness and hospitality incarnate.” Kate Bolick has turned Wharton’s life-long attempt to master “the complex art of civilized living” into an entertaining guide, “The Guesthouse of Mirth,” just in time for those last few summer parties. Pair with Roxana Robinson‘s reflections on Wharton’s life and works, including the original The House of Mirth.