In a By Heart piece for The Atlantic, Harriet Lane writes about the “bleak precise nature” of Philip Larkin‘s poetry (what Stephen Akey called “The Poetry of Mental Unhealth” in a Millions review) and about the power inherent in writing fiction. “In my everyday life I have no control, really: who does? But on paper, I hold all the cards. Fiction provides you with a way to shape a world, to exert the kind of power and agency our real lives so often lack.”
“I write, always thinking about the generations of black women who came before me, who faced racism and sexism head-on, and in spite of it all, did their work. They encourage me not to despair.” For Vogue, author Brit Bennett writes about 2017, racism, Trump, and the forward progression of time. Pair with: staff writer Ismail Muhammad‘s interview with Bennett.
“I’m writing about people. Man involved in the human dilemma, facing the problems bigger than he, whether he licks them or whether they lick him. But man as frail and fragile as he is, yet he will keep on trying to be brave and honest and compassionate, and that, to me, is very fine and very interesting — and that is the reason I think any writer writes.” William Faulkner on why writers write in a rare recording from the University of Virginia, via Brain Pickings.
Haven’t read Agatha Christie? The Oyster Review will get you up to speed. Their latest Reader’s Guide, written by Lili Loofbourow, delves into the writer behind Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot and countless other iconic characters. You could also read Daniel Friedman on the ending to every mystery novel.
Chief among your more anxiety-producing kinds of literature is the genre of books geared towards expectant mothers. Examples of the genre offer every bit of advice imaginable — much of it contradictory — and condemn a laundry list of relatively common behaviors. At Salon, our own Lydia Kiesling recounts her own dive into the pregnancy-lit waters. This might also be a good time to read fellow staff writer Edan Lepucki on the perils of reading while expecting.
“Maybe in the future I’ll feel compelled to write that kind of specific and current book, but right now I feel that my strength as a fiction writer is my ability to take a step back. I prefer to create a more metaphorical story that people can apply to a variety of situations, personal and political.” Electric Literature interviews Kazuo Ishiguro about his most recent novel, The Buried Giant, which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed here.
Caleb Crain has strong reservations about the New York Public Library’s proposed $350 million remodel, or, in his view, the library’s shift away from “its research mission.” To put his concerns bluntly, he asks, “What problem is the Central Library Plan (CLP) meant to solve?” He then vividly enumerates the problems with the proposal. For those of you wondering what can be accomplished with an essay, there’s this: Mr. Crain’s got him landed on one of the project’s advisory panels as a result.