“If they are honest with themselves, authors of color know what stories they’re supposed to tell, and know that attempts to move beyond those stories are not so often accepted.” Matthew Salesses on the danger of cultural homogeneity in the world of books, over at Literary Hub. Pair with Salesses’s Millions essay on novel writing, inciting incidents, and beginnings.
In an illuminating interview for Slate, James Wood revises his opinion on David Foster Wallace and discusses how aging can change critics. As he puts it, “At exactly the moment that I wanted really to write, and started writing poems and then trying to write bad fiction, I was reading with a view to learning stuff. I was reading poetry. How did Auden do his stanza forms? And I was trying to copy those. What’s a successful poem, what’s an unsuccessful poem? […] What’s a good sentence? I don’t think I’ve changed. I am as sincerely interested in novels that fail as I am in novels that succeed. I just want to work them out. It’s a pleasure for me actually.” Top it off with Jonathan Russell Clark’s essay on Wood’s The Nearest Thing to Life.
“I think that every novelist of the kind of novels that I write has in them maybe one really good book, but the trouble with so many novelists is that they keep on writing novels even when they run out of ideas.” Forrest Gump author Winston Groom on why it’s taken him 20 years to write his new novel. Pair with our recent three-way interview with writers Emily Barton, Alexander Chee, and Whitney Terrell, all of whom needed a decade for their most recent books.
You can listen to Robert Kloss read from The Alligators of Abraham, which was released last Thursday from Mud Luscious Press. The author also composed a playlist to accompany his book. The gorgeous text has been receiving much-deserved advance praise, and it’s even borne a “series of texts – videos, art, stories, and more – written, filmed, cobbled together, and razed by different artists from around the literary world.”
“Literary interviews became popular in the eighteen-eighties, but Richard Altick, the late professor of Victorian literature at Ohio State University, traces the public fascination with writers’ homes at least as far back as the eighteen-forties, when there was a vogue for books describing the houses and landscapes of famous authors, complete with engravings and, later, photographs.” On the strangeness of literary celebrity.
Among the recommendations and rules listed in the CIA’s official style guide: favor the active voice; keep sentences and paragraphs short; boats should not be referred to with gendered pronouns; and the “w” in “Vietnam war” should be lower case because war wasn’t officially declared.