How do you know when you’re finished writing a novel? Electric Literature’s advice column, The Blunt Instrument, tackles the timeless questions of how to begin and when to end. If it’s endings you’re after, this piece from The Millions on writers and last lines will help give you some closure.
“My daughter spent some of this summer performing a dance, which she learned at summer camp, to a certain song by Shakira, called “Waka Waka.” It was earnest, funny, beautiful dance; however, I am, it seems, unable to watch my daughter perform her Shakira dance, to a song I don’t very much care for, without sobbing. There is no explanation for this excessive reaction—the dance is homely and human and not at all out of this world—but that the reaction is about beauty, and joy, and potential, and not sorrow. And this, it seems, is one aspect of what crying celebrates: the sublime.” Here is Rick Moody, life coach, from The Literary Hub. Here’s a recent Millions interview with Moody.
“Everyone says Anna Karenina is about individual desire going against society, but I actually think the opposite is stronger: the way societal forces limit the expression of the individual.” Here is Mary Gaitskill on Anna Karenina for The Atlantic’s By Heart series, in which writers reflect on some of their favorite passages in all of literature. We've brought you a bit on By Heart here, here, and here.
“Throughout the Crash, I wrote free-hand, not caring about the style or if something I wrote in the afternoon contradicted something I’d established in the story that morning. The priority was simply to get the ideas surfacing and growing. Awful sentences, hideous dialogue, scenes that went nowhere – I let them remain and ploughed on.” Newly minted Nobel laureate Kazuo Ishiguro on writing The Remains of the Day in four weeks.
Tonight at Columbia: A conversation with Gary Shteyngart, author of The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, Absurdistan, and most recently Super Sad True Love Story. Moderated by McKenzie Wark, professor of media and cultural studies at The New School and author of Gamer Theory. "Rewiring the Real" at 6:30 P.M.
A lot of writers have alter-egos, but few are as interesting as Benjamin Black, the crime-writing persona of Irish novelist and Year in Reading alum John Banville. The author’s new novel adds an entry to the saga of a crime-fiction icon: Raymond Chandler’s Angeleno detective, Philip Marlowe.
New this week: Tupelo Hassman's debut Girlchild, a pair of novels -- Angel and A Game of Hide and Seek -- by Elizabeth Taylor (not the actress) from NYRB Classics featuring introductions by Hilary Mantel and Caleb Crain, Self-Portrait of an Other, prose poems by Cees Nooteboom, and Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys, a new poetry collection from D.A. Powell.