“I’m writing about people. Man involved in the human dilemma, facing the problems bigger than he, whether he licks them or whether they lick him. But man as frail and fragile as he is, yet he will keep on trying to be brave and honest and compassionate, and that, to me, is very fine and very interesting — and that is the reason I think any writer writes.” William Faulkner on why writers write in a rare recording from the University of Virginia, via Brain Pickings.
James Baldwin was more famous for being an essayist and novelist, but he was also a film critic. At The Atlantic, Noah Berlatsky argues that Baldwin should be considered one of the best film critics for The Devil Finds Work. “Baldwin shows that criticism is art, which means that it doesn’t need a purpose or a rationale other than truth, or beauty, or keeping faith, or doing whatever it is we think art is trying to do.” For more on Baldwin, read our essay on his epiphanies.
In another excellent essay from LARB’s new site, Morten Høi Jensen takes a close look at the work of Martin Amis to discuss the theme of masculinity, the arc of his oeuvre, the seductiveness of his distinct tone and the dangers of falling for it. For more on Amis, check out our expose of Invasion of the Space Invaders, the near-forgotten first work by Amis in which the young author details the gritty world of arcade gaming.
Elmore Leonard was a very cinematic writer, yet why are most adaptations of his work so bad? Christopher Orr explores what he calls the “Elmore Leonard paradox” in The Atlantic. “Most of the early adaptations of Leonard’s crime work missed his light authorial touch, opting instead for somber noir.” Pair with: Our own Bill Morris’s essay on why Leonard was such a good writer.
Despair, debt, frustration, a decade in school rewarded with guaranteed joblessness. If this cocktail of woe sounds good to you, consider getting a Ph.D. in English, History, or any other humanities discipline. At the New York Times, yet another of the recent spate of articles explaining how utterly dismal the prospects of recent humanities Ph.D.s are.