“Writers teach, not writing per se, but how to engage in writing as a process and a means of perception. The actual work of writing is seldom sublime. It’s a struggle that grows more difficult if we avoid it. Writing is often excruciatingly slow and repetitive. Time, in slipping and sliding, makes itself felt and immediate. Words are the way in, but nothing is guaranteed. What writers or readers can do with language, or understand inside it, depends on what they know—on refining their sensibilities, on writing, revising, waiting, reading, writing, as though living in language were life and death.” Year in Reading alumna Jayne Anne Phillips writes for the Literary Hub about the importance of writing programs. For more on the debate, check out Hannah Gersen’s Millions essay.
"We believe in the digital with abandon. So when something of artisanal quality is placed in our hands, or we see something hanging on a wall drawn by an actual hand, we feel a little shock. We remember how to feel something. Maybe not quite an emotion, but the touch of paper does something to us. We use our senses again." Celebrating fifty years of the French publisher L’école des Loisirs, Gnaomi Siemens reflects on the power of hand-drawn images and the future of the book.
“It can not be that I monopolize / The making of the songs that give you praise / Or that such pools as are your dearest eyes / Have just one bather through the unclear days. / Then, let me take my place amid the pack, / If I so pack my songs with your rare worth / There were no quality they then should lack / But they were bettered by that happy death.” A previously unpublished Ezra Pound sonnet selling at auction is always newsworthy–especially when it fetches nearly $12,000. Here is a related Millions piece about the difficult poetry of Ezra Pound, John Berryman, and Ted Berrigan.
“It’s a major work of scholarship and interpretation, but also one that some readers may foolishly reject as unimportant on account of its theme, the ultimate ‘minor’ topic in the eyes of the heterosexual masses.” In the LRB, Terry Castle reviews Lisa Cohen’s new biography.
Courtesy of fake-news juggernaut The Onion, a new viral website honest about its purpose: "I think we see the ideal ClickHole reader as a hollow shell who exists purely to click on our content and then share that content with other hollow shells." (Also: the same technique on headlines, applied to books.)
Recommended listening: Benjamin Percy, whose novel The Dead Lands was released just this week, sings "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Writers" for the debut episode of Poets & Writers's new podcast, Ampersand.
The novel that had Scarlett Johansson filing charges of “fraudulent and illegal exploitation of (her) name” is due out next month in its English-language iteration. The First Thing You See by Grégoire Delacourt is ostensibly about a garage mechanic who ends up falling for a Johansson lookalike. For more on the legality of literature, here’s an essay for The Millions on J.D. Salinger and U.S. copyright.