It goes without saying that Hitler is a taboo subject in Germany, which is why it’s remarkable that a German novelist, Timur Vermes, has caused a sensation with his book about a time-travelling Fuhrer. In the Times, Janet Maslin reviews the first English translation of Look Who’s Back. You could also read Merve Emre on Ben Urwand’s book about Hollywood and the Nazis.
You will not want to miss this possibly true ghost story from David Mitchell over at LitHub. This piece comes from the first installment of Freeman’s, which is out now, and which includes such fantastic writers as Mitchell, Haruki Murakami, and Louise Erdrich.
James Tate Hill shares his experiences as a writer who cannot read. “When I say I can’t read, I’m not referring to illiteracy, but to the large blind spots in my central field of vision that put an end to my unremarkable driving career a few months after my 16th birthday.”
Do you need a pot of coffee before you dive into writing every day? You’re just procrastinating and making yourself less creative. Writer Merrill Markoe did the same thing until she discovered that working right after she wakes up leads to the best creative writing. “Words come pouring out easily while my head still feels as if it is full of ground fog, wrapped in flannel and gauze, and surrounded by a hive of humming, velvety sleep bees.”
Recommended Reading: David Sedaris’s essay about his sister Tiffany’s suicide, “Now We Are Five,” for The New Yorker. “How could anyone purposefully leave us, us, of all people? This is how I thought of it, for though I’ve often lost faith in myself, I’ve never lost it in my family, in my certainty that we are fundamentally better than everyone else.”
Don’t blame Amazon or Goodreads for authors writing rave reviews of their own work. Writers have been self-promoting since the 1700s, when it was called “puffery.” As Nicholas Mason writes for Symposium Magazine, “Nearly every British writer of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries either participated in or benefitted from ginned-up book reviews.” The list of puffed up authors includes Mary Wollstonecraft, Walter Scott, and Mary Shelley.