“I’ve learned that people—writers and non-writers alike—don’t like that word. Failure…. I take a bizarre pleasure, now, in using that word. Maybe because during my decade as a failed writer, the one thing that took the edge off was wallowing in that failure—carefully, in a proscribed fashion, like having a drink when you’re still hungover.” Stephanie Feldman writes for Vol. 1 Brooklyn about being a literary failure, about the two books she wrote and never published, and about the one she finally did. Pair with the stories of these 5 writers and their failed “novels in drawers.”
Over at Catapult, Lynn Steger Strong writes on writing a novel that readers will read. As she puts it, “I was trying to explore the specific experience of living in the world while also living largely, sometimes to one’s own detriment, inside of books, inside one’s head.” Also check out this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
By the age of twenty-one, Eugene O’Neill had dropped out of Princeton, fathered a child and caught syphilis on a trip through South America. He was, in his own words, “the Irish luck kid,” blessed in a strange way with misfortune. Yet he went on to win a Pulitzer eleven years later. How did he do it? In the LRB, John Lahr reads a new biography of the playwright.
Patti Smith’s M Train was released this Tuesday. Geoffrey O’Brien reviews her memoir at The New York Review of Books: “Perhaps M Train represents the attempt by someone whose career is as public as can be imagined to stake out a zone of inviolable privacy, albeit through the public act of writing a book meant for publication.” Need more music? Check out our Torch Ballads and Jukebox Music column.
On Monday, the Harry Ransom Center announced that it had acquired the complete archive of Gabriel García Márquez, which includes notebooks, photo albums and correspondence by the late Nobel laureate. For Márquez fans, the most important part of the collection may We’ll See Each Other in August, the author’s final, unfinished novel. Pair with: Charles Finch on Márquez and the modern novel.