“I find it amusing that people think trying to read a book in a language you do not understand is the most boring activity in the world. If you are interested in how literature works, these things are interesting.” On Lydia Davis‘s interest in learning to read Norwegian literature and writing at the end of the world, from the newly-launched Lit Hub.
The essay is more popular than ever. At Salon, Michele Filgate talks to Leslie Jamison (author of The Empathy Exams, here’s our review) and Roxane Gay (author of the forthcoming Bad Feminist) about the power of the genre. Gay believes our interest in essays is because of a “cultural preoccupation with the exposure of the self.” They also discuss if we’re in a golden age of women essayists. “Sometimes when men write about private feeling, it’s seen as exploratory or daring, and when women write about private feeling it’s seen as limited or in the vein of a kind of circumscribed emotional writing,” Jamison says.
Don’t let social anxiety trap you in your hotel room at AWP. At Tin House, Courtney Maum gives advice for how to make and keep your writer friends in an essay aptly titled, “How Not to Hate Your Friends.” Her first wise tip: “Only be friends with people you actually like.” Pair with: Our dispatch from AWP 2013 to know what you’re in for.
To commemorate publication of the 65th anniversary edition of Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, New Directions has asked ten contemporary writers to “create new exercises in homage to Queneau.” Over at The Rumpus, you can check out Jonathan Lethem’s “Cyberpunk” exercise, as well as one of Queneau’s twenty eight “never before translated” exercises making its English debut in the new edition. Bonus: read our own Mark O’Connell on the “radical claims about the relationship between form and content” in Queneau’s writing.
Look, it’s hard being the bloodthirsty kingpin of a multinational drug smuggling cartel. Apparently Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been feeling a bit sorry for himself post-capture, so what did Eduardo Guerrero, head of Mexico’s prison systems, think would cheer him up? He brought him a copy of Don Quixote.