Thomas Pynchon defined what he termed “vintage Barthelmismo” as “fictions thoughtfully concocted and comfortably beyond the reach of time.” This moving tribute to Donald Barthelme by Padgett Powell from the forthcoming anthology, A Manner of Being: Writers on Their Mentors, is right in line with Pynchon’s sentiment. Here’s another Barthelme mention from The Millions that you may be interested in.
“That to me was the rub. A writer freed from the need to calibrate with reality, or even be internally consistent, could put a washing machine into the sky along with a rainbow. So why not put a rhinoceros up there too?” On negative literary influences.
This fantastic essay from The Rumpus argues for the abandonment of realism in American fiction. Charles Finch wrote an essay for The Millions on the truce between realism and fabulism in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude that pairs quite nicely.
This week in book-related infographics, round 2: Lapham's Quarterly takes a look at the day jobs of famous authors, among them T.S. Eliot, who was responsible for processing reports on German debt, and Charlotte Bronte, who had laundry fees deducted from her pay. Pair with our own Emily St. John Mandel's essay on "Working the Double Shift" and "all the strangely varied occupations that a person accumulates when the primary objective is not to establish a career, per se, but just to pay the rent while they’re working on a novel."
"In the days after the procedure I was sometimes so exhausted by movement that I would wait patiently for someone to come in and give me a paper cup of pills that was almost, not quite, out of my reach. But somehow, I would always contrive to get my pen in my hand, however far it had rolled... When Virginia Woolf’s doctors forbade her to write, she obeyed them. Which makes me ask, what kind of wuss was Woolf?" Hilary Mantel writes a diary on hospitalization for the London Review of Books.