“My idea of the ideal literary dinner party remains locking a book under my left wrist while conveying risotto to my mouth with my right at the kitchen table.” Stacy Schiff talks literary dinner parties and more in this week’s New York Times By the Book column. Schiff’s latest, The Witches: Salem, 1692, is out this week.
You may have read Darcey Steinke’s Year in Reading piece, or perhaps one of her articles here at The Millions. Or else you might have read — or at least heard about — her recent novel, Sister Golden Hair. Either way, you should read this interview at The Rumpus, in which she talks about Virginia, femininity and books that have too much plot.
Cutting out large chunks of a book is pretty common, but cutting out 200 pages is a little unusual. While working on his latest novel, Joshua Ferris decided to abandon the elements drawn from crime fiction, which meant he had to toss out a huge portion of his draft. “Now that was a fun day,” he says.
How do you know if the book you’re writing is going to fly or flop? Try writing the first 80 pages without worrying about the outcome as Meg Wolitzer does. “Eighty pages is enough pages for a writer to feel she’s accomplished something, but it’s not so many pages that, if she decides to put aside the book, she’ll feel as if she’s wasted her life,” she told the Daily Beast for its “How I Write” series. It must work because we loved The Interestings.
We already knew that Haruki Murakami was a writer and runner but a former jazz club owner, too? Aaron Gilbreath visited Murakami’s 1970s jazz club, Peter Cat, and found “a drab three-story cement building. Outside, a first-floor, a restaurant had set up a sampuru display of plastic foods.” For more Murakami, read our review of 1Q84.