“As adults, we should hold each other’s work to high standards, and our own work to the highest of all. As writers, we shouldn’t settle for a single pale line. But before the poem is written, I say, we should lie to ourselves, the way we lied to that winded child. Before composition, we have to be gods.” Alex Chertok writes about literary pep talks for the Ploughshares blog.
It’s not a commonly held opinion, but Hilary Mantel thinks Henry VIII was a romantic. In a brief interview with Jamie Sharpe, the Wolf Hall author dispels the common view of the oft-married king as a philanderer. “He thought that he had to shape his life and shape his kingdom for each woman,” she says. “Men didn’t think that way in those days.” You could also read Damian Barr’s interview with her at The Millions.
"After ten years of painting, that is to say ten years of using an abstract, invented language, writing stories was the closest I had come to working in the realm of 'realism.' It was the most direct I had ever been in my art. Perhaps the most direct I had ever been. But, as I learned from the comments of my peers in workshop ('this isn’t a story,' 'this is poetry,' 'what is this'), my writing was something other than what we referred to as literary realism. By which I mean, the writing many have come to believe most accurately represents life." Susan Steinberg asks what happened to American experimental writing.
New this week: 300,000,000 by Blake Butler; Quick Kills by Lynn Lurie; A Different Bed Every Time by Jac Jemc; Sister Golden Hair by Darcey Steinke; J by Howard Jacobson; Electric City by Elizabeth Rosner; The Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec; The Letters of Samuel Beckett; Volume 3; and Blue Horses by Mary Oliver. For more on these and other new titles, check out our Great Second-half 2014 Book Preview.
Is “literary” fiction just a product of clever marketing? Elizabeth Edmondson thinks it is. At The Guardian, she argues that classically literary authors like Jane Austen had no idea they were writing Literature -- posterity classified their work as such later on. Her essay dovetails nicely with our own Edan Lepucki's argument that literature is a genre.
The new book by Alain de Botton, How to Think More About Sex, addresses exactly what you’d think it would based on a glance at its title. According to de Botton, the word “sexy,” at base, refers to people or things which mimic our deeply-held values. At Brain Pickings, you can read more excerpts.
Anne Frank’s copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales is up for auction, including her signature on the book’s flyleaf. "This book really is the springboard from which her nascent literary career and dreams of being a writer were launched," said Nicholas Lowry, president of Swann Auction Galleries.