Novels that focus on obsessive characters hinge on persnickety details. The need to depict accurately the mind of an obsessive demands that the novelist overemphasize the trifling and tangential. In The Kenyon Review, Vanessa Blakeslee reviews a new and representative example of the form, The Understory by Pamela Erens. Sample quote: “When the smaller steps of daily life are magnified, does that narrative reach its greatest potential for a unified and powerful resonance?” FYI, Erens has written for us.
A translation guide to writing workshops that we’re definitely printing out and bringing along to our next one. “Sometimes when people say ‘show, don’t tell,’ what they mean is that they find the characters sympathetic, the story is moving forward, and they even like the conflict, but they just don’t like the way you wrote it. What they’d really like to do is steal the idea and write it themselves, because honestly, they would do a much better job.”
The reach of literary Brooklyn grows ever larger, as local hub BookCourt mounts a $300,000 campaign to convert the “Bibliobarn,” 160 miles north in the Catskills, into a “bookshop, event space, and writers’ retreat.” Upstaters, lock up your house-cured salume and artisinally sharpened pencils!
“You can’t read books all the time; trust me, I’ve tried (and like I said to the officer, at least I wasn’t texting and driving).” Simon Lowe chooses his 10 favorite book podcasts for The Guardian. We featured a list of some must-listens earlier this year too.
WARNING: Do not visit the website for Michigan State’s Celebrity Lecture Series unless you have a substantial amount of free time to kill. Before you even need to scroll down, you have access to audio from Edward Albee, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, and Pat Conroy.