“The greatest mistake the American writer ever made was asking everybody else what they thought of their writing. Look around your current writing workshop. Look right and left. Most of those people will stop writing. Because it’s too hard, they have no ideas, no one understands them, whatever. A few of those failed people will become editors. These are the only people in the room who should ever really matter to you.”
Kevin Courier is re-running interviews he did for the CBC in the 1980s on the Critics At Large site. Here’s his 1986 interview with Barbara Brenden, author of The Passion of Ayn Rand. Brenden’s book, Courier writes, “not only unveiled this polarizing figure” of Ayn Rand, but it “also illustrated the perils of blind faith and idolatry.” Given the Objectivist’s influence on a certain vice presidential candidate, this one’s worth a read.
“To use the lingo of their era, these novels are square. The protagonists have names like Jane and Barbara; they are not the misfits of which much teen literature is made but instead fundamentally good girls who long to fit in, and usually do … Viewed through the lens of contemporary culture, and especially contemporary teen lit, these girls should be boring and shallow. But Beverly Cleary’s supposedly ordinary girls are complex: resentful of their mothers one moment and sympathetic toward them the next, willing to do anything for one special boy but indignant when they’re taken for granted.” On the unexpectedly complex nature of Beverly Cleary’s boring protagonists with Ruth Graham at Slate.
“[I]t’s important that people begin to understand that whiteness is not inevitable, and that white dominance is not inevitable.” Claudia Rankine talks to The Guardian about her plans for the Racial Imaginary Institute, a think-tank-cum-gallery that she’s founding with all that MacArthur Genius cash. See also: why Americans love poetry, but not poetry books.