Year in Reading alumnus Alexander Chee writes about the impulse to write fiction, his first novel, and unpublished manuscripts in an essay for the Center For Fiction’s Why Fiction Matters series. “The first story I ever invented for public consumption was in a book report back in grade school. I had made a vow to read every book in my grade school library, and at some point, as I made my way through them, I remember very clearly understanding that there was simply no way my teacher would know about every book ever published—this was before the Internet—and so I decided I would make one up and see if she noticed.” Pair with this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
What are those crazy kids from Vampire Weekend saying in their new single, “Cousins”? It’s a little disappointing, as the beleaguered translators of lyrics at We Listen For You reveal.
Symmetry’s addictive. Beethoven sought it in the order of chords, Einstein in the logic of theory. Countless writers, too, have sought its imprint in the perfect mot juste. In Aeon Magazine, Philip Ball pleads fervently against the pursuit of beauty in logic, and logic in beauty. “There’s a reason why our galleries are not, on the whole, filled with paintings of perfect spheres… the search for an ideal, perfect Platonic form of the table amid spirals, hypercubes and pyramids has an air of desperation.”
Hear ye, hear ye! The annual Morning News Tournament of Books has begun! (ICYMI: I wrote about their bracket last week.)
Recommended Reading: David Sedaris’s essay about his sister Tiffany’s suicide, “Now We Are Five,” for The New Yorker. “How could anyone purposefully leave us, us, of all people? This is how I thought of it, for though I’ve often lost faith in myself, I’ve never lost it in my family, in my certainty that we are fundamentally better than everyone else.”