“I do not find it unusual that many writers I know acquire vintage clothes, buy old homes, and rescue animals. For one, we don’t have Wall Street salaries, and secondly, we’re suckers for backstory, particularly that which is left to the imagination. Our job, after all, is to make up lives, engage in epic games of pretend.” Megan Mayhew Bergman writes for Ploughshares about collecting cast-off objects, “the chaos of memories,” and becoming a writer. Pair with David L. Ulin‘s reflection on Bergman’s essay and the way we think about memory, written for the LA Times.
Twenty-five years ago this month, Mary Gaitskill published Bad Behavior, a story collection so accomplished that even Michiko Kakutani thought the book had “radar-perfect detail.” Now, to commemorate the anniversary, The Slant interviews Gaitskill, who discusses her debut and the effect of porn on our culture. (In case you didn’t know, a story in Bad Behavior inspired the movie Secretary.)
"A story works when there’s momentum, life behind the words," Mary Miller told Matthew Salesses at The Rumpus. She needs that momentum for her new novel, The Last Days of California, about a family driving to California for the rapture. Also, Amy Butcher wrote about her favorite Millerisms at Hobart.
Think your novel could use a language of its own, but don't have the philological powers of Tolkien? Then take a few lessons from Game of Throne's resident linguist, David J. Peterson, who turned George R.R. Martin's 55 Dothraki names into a 4,000 word vocabulary with a working grammar.
“Born Guan Moye, he chose his pen name—“Don’t Talk”—to honor his mother’s caution against talking too much and in sardonic recognition of his failure to heed her warning. Yet I have been struck by his quiet and unassuming presence at literary conferences in Beijing, where he offered kind encouragement in private meetings but evinced a shy persona in public.” On the contradictions of last year’s Nobel laureate, Mo Yan.