“Will anyone in America give a damn about Beig? It’s hard to imagine our glittering zeitgest machine ever getting behind her, with her landscape, her women, her knowledge of the secret lives of animals born for the hatchet. Her writing, so invested in the disappearing rural world, is particular, yes, but universal: her characters love and long and pine away.” Matthew Neill Null is unsatisfied with how American readers have treated the work of the great German novelist Maria Beig. He makes a passionate case in her favor in this new essay over at The Paris Review.
Sometimes, a writer needs to live in the setting of his or her fiction, as was the case with William Faulkner, who famously took a train from Hollywood to Mississippi solely to break through his writer’s block. Other times, they need to move away to find the inspiration to write about their home. In The Globe and Mail, Marsha Lederman writes about Emma Hooper, who credits her move to England with helping her write a novel set in her native Saskatchewan.
Tom Perotta, author of Little Children and The Leftovers, talks about how he learned to write about ordinary life from Thornton Wilder’s play, Our Town. “The tragedy is that, while we’re alive, we don’t view our days in the knowledge that all things must pass. We don’t—we can’t—value our lives, our loved ones, with the urgent knowledge that they’ll one day be gone forever.”
Earlier today, the Guggenheim Foundation announced this year’s Fellows, and the names on their list include a few that Millions readers will recognize. On the fiction side, there’s contributor Laila Lalami along with Year in Reading alumni Jess Row and Jesse Ball, while in nonfiction and poetry, there’s Amanda Petrusich along with Adam Kirsch, Chris Kraus and Deborah Landau. The winners each receive a sizeable cash grant.
n+1’s Research Collective has posted the introduction to Ellen Willis’s No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays (1992), and plans to post a series of essays by the seamless activist and writer– “Her refusal to subsume her personality to a movement, or to ignore the things that were important to her, remains an inspiration.”