Sometimes, a writer needs to live in the setting of his or her fiction, as was the case with William Faulkner, who famously took a train from Hollywood to Mississippi solely to break through his writer’s block. Other times, they need to move away to find the inspiration to write about their home. In The Globe and Mail, Marsha Lederman writes about Emma Hooper, who credits her move to England with helping her write a novel set in her native Saskatchewan.
Wes Anderson really likes trains, and not just any trains — the director of The Grand Budapest Hotel is a big fan of riding on Amtrak. “It’s one thing to be stuck together for the long haul to New Zealand in the upper deck of a 747 for 16 hours,” he told a writer for the company’ s blog, “but it’s an altogether different matter to hit the dining car three meals a day for two and a half days running onboard the Southwest Chief.” This may be a good time to read our own Nick Ripatrazone’s essay on writers and trains.
Imagine a reality television show that pits up-and-coming writers against each other in a series of challenges designed to test their skills and endurance. When the smoke clears, and the bourbon’s gone, one talented writer will be reborn into gritty glory; only one writer will become America’s Next Top Writer!
2011 is the year of television’s oral history. On the heels of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, published last May and reviewed by n+1 here, you can now check out I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution. You can whet your appetite with an excerpt here. If television’s not your thing, you can also check out New York Magazine‘s oral history of the Upright Citizens Brigade, and of the founding of Ms. magazine.
At least two people were not pleased with John Jeremiah Sullivan’s recent cover story in the New York Times Magazine. In a letter to the New York Observer (and an expanded post on Google+), Susannah McCormick – daughter of renowned music historian Robert “Mack” McCormick – alleges that Sullivan and his research assistant “glibly” stole her father’s research in an act of “quasi theft.” In his response, Sullivan asserts that, “by hiding L. V. Thomas’s voice, by refusing for over half a century to credit or even so much as name the two singers who created those recordings while they or their contemporaries were alive, Mack McCormick committed a theft—through negligence or writer’s block or whatever reasons of his own—far graver than my citation of interviews L.V. granted him decades ago.”