“Setting is often the last piece of the jigsaw. I start somewhere else—with a kind of a premise, a set of relationships, a theme—and I often have a long period when I can’t figure out where the story should be put down. I find myself going location hunting. Not just for a time and place, but also for a genre, if you like.” Kazuo Ishiguro on the Hazlitt podcast. For more things Ishiguro, here is our own Lydia Kiesling’s review of Ishiguro’s latest novel, The Buried Giant.
Why do some ideas only come to you when you’re under a tremendous amount of pressure? At the Ploughshares blog, S. Hope Mills reflects on the importance of deadlines, which may explain (according to Guardian columnist Robert Crum) why Dickens chose to serialize his novels.
Yes, “books to read this summer” lists are proliferating on the internet to a staggering degree — our own “Summer Reading List For Wretched Assholes” notwithstanding. However, few lists address the importance of a single season quite like this one by Carrie Mullins at Electric Literature, which takes a look at 11 novels that take place during one summer.
“Our culture claims to celebrate vigor and well-being, yet holds up steroid-addled men and impossibly thin women as models of physical perfection. Those of us unwilling to juice or starve ourselves are left feeling inadequate and confused about why we do not bear any resemblance to the humans we are meant to emulate.” Michael Ian Black reviews two books about the male physique — and reveals a bit about the unrealistic nature of our cultural expectations.
“I wanted to be able to approach the subject from many different angles, not just the one most people think of when they think of war: an infantryman with a rifle killing the enemy. What does one make of one’s moral responsibility for killing when you’re part of a crew-fired-weapon whose rounds strike miles away, when you’re not even sure if you have killed people or how many? What about when you’re a chaplain trying to influence policy, or a psychological operations soldier trying to help shape the battlefield?” Phil Klay, author of the National Book Award-winning collection Redeployment, on modes of storytelling and on the psychological difference between citizens and veterans.
“I’m sure the ghost is fascinated by the N.Y.C. vs. M.F.A. debate, and would add that there’s a literary-world bias… toward writing done by the living.” The New Yorker interviews Rebecca Curtis about ghost stories and her latest piece of short fiction, “The Pink House.” For more about Curtis, check out our review of her debut collection Twenty Grand: And Other Tales of Love and Money.