At this point, we’re all familiar with Cheryl Strayed’s transformative solo hike of the Pacific Crest Trail that she wrote about in Wild. Yet at Condé Nast Traveler, she discusses how a recent family vacation to Laos reawakened her passion for travel. “Here we were on a sacred hill so far off from the place from which we had come, and so abundantly thankful for it. Perhaps the power of that very gratitude is the reason I travel.”
“I am nostalgic for letters. There’s a craft that’s been lost in expressing some kind of desire or passion or bodily experience for someone else.” From James Joyce to Frida Kahlo, The Guardian collects bits of great artists’ erotic missives to one another. And speaking of literary love letters, how about Nicholson Baker‘s Vox [ed. note: it makes a great Valentine’s Day gift]?
“To get me through a 550-page collection, the stories must be very good indeed. These are.” When Lionel Shriver participated in our Year in Reading ritual several years back, she dedicated her reading diary to William Trevor, who just passed away. “Trevor’s writing is so perfect that you don’t even notice it’s perfect,” she wrote. “He mainlines pure narrative directly into your veins. The words never get in the way; the words, like their author, disappear.”
Writing for Full Stop, Robert Fay asks, “If Mr. [T.S.] Eliot had to have a day job, why is it that writers and poets today are so cagey about what they do to pay the bills?” Previously, two of our staff writers have explored similar aspects of the same question. In 2009, Emily St. John Mandel wrote of the “constant struggle” that arises from “striking a balance between writing literary fiction and paying the rent.” And last year, Edan Lepucki looked at the perils of including “non-writing jobs” in one’s author bio.
Can confessional writing be literary? Kelly Sundberg writes, “When I sit down to write literary writing about my trauma, I am a writer first, and a trauma survivor second, but I am not ever not a trauma survivor, and as such, I am often interested in examining the roots and effects of my own trauma.”
The 2015 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 Honorees have been announced! This year’s honorees are Angela Flournoy for The Turner House (our review here), Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi for Fra Keeler (our review here), Colin Barrett for Young Skins (which appeared in our most recent book preview), Tracy O’Neill for The Hopeful (you can read her Millions articles here and here), and Megan Kruse for Call Me Home. For all of the National Book Award longlists, check out our post.