“Genius” is a loaded term. Its application usually says more about the person making the judgment than it does about the genius in question. In The Guardian, Sophie Hannah argues that the term isn’t used enough to describe one writer in particular: Agatha Christie. You could also read Daniel Friedman on the terrible secret of all crime fiction.
In a 2010 profile, Deborah Eisenberg told us, of her current efforts at writing fiction, “I’m sort of desperately throwing myself against pieces of paper and only coming up with what look like bug smears.” Now, as will shock none of her readers Eisenberg has come up with something considerably more appetizing: a new short story called “Recalculating.” It’s available, free, at the NYRB (!).
“War veterans experience something called hypervigilance, a mental state of continual alertness for danger. I have a minor version of this, a writer’s version. For me, danger lies in the sound of a footstep, a spoken word. Anyone could destroy the fragile construction I have to make each day.” Roxana Robinson writes for VQR about the writer’s need for solitude. For more from Robinson, be sure to check out her essay for The Millions on Edith Wharton.
Fans of the French Oulipo movement will know about A Void, the Georges Perec novel written entirely without the use of the letter “e.” What very few readers of any kind know, however, is that in 1939, thirty years before Perec’s novel was published, Ernest Vincent Wright wrote a book in English, Gadsby, that hewed to these same constraints. At The Atlantic, Nikhil Sonnad investigates how this experiment plays out in the book.