“I have a theory: the thing that makes you a unique writer hasn’t got so much to do with your influences as it does with how you became a writer in the first place. I think your preferences—your obsessions—come just as much from the first sorts of things you consumed and were passionate about. Whether that’s pop music, comics, “lowbrow” fiction, soap operas, or anything else, the thing that matters most is what started you writing stories.” Amber Sparks writes about “lowbrow” influences and the many paths to becoming a storyteller in an essay for Electric Literature.
Another packed line-up: New this week is Stephen King’s 11/22/63, Umberto Eco’s The Prague Cemetary, Ingo Schulze’s, and Adam and Evelyn (all three of which were previewed by us). We also have new biographies of Kurt Vonnegut and Catherine the Great. And new in paperback, sometime Millions contributor Matthew Gallaway’s The Metropolis Case.
“I lived alone for three years in Brooklyn, paying $1,700 a month ($61,200 all told) for a pretty but small one-bedroom within eyeshot of the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway. I also spent $400 a month on health insurance. At one point I thought I would find another full-time job after finishing the book, but then I must have convinced myself that teaching yoga part time would better enable my writing.” Emily Gould on poverty and the writing life.
If you live in London, and you like the idea of a play in which “two women [try] to put on a one-woman play about Frida Kahlo in whom neither of them is really interested,” you should stop by the Bridge House Theatre, which is playing Chris Larner’s The Frida Kahlo of Penge West until November 23rd. At the LRB blog, Rosemary Hill provides a brief review.
There are reality TV shows for aspiring designers, singers, and chefs, so what about writers? The Italian reality show Masterpiece will pit writers against each other in competition for a book deal. As judge Giancarlo De Cataldo said, “The book is dying, and we must do everything we can to save it. Even a talent show.” We expect a lot of dramatic crying at typewriters.
China Miéville on apocalyptic London for The New York Times Magazine: “Standing so straight on a raised dais, in so immaculate a uniform that he looks like a ventriloquist’s dummy, the Metropolitan Police Service’s new commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, tells the conference in an avuncular voice about his plan for ‘total policing. ‘ He is enthusiastic but nebulous. Details are vague.”