Recommended Reading: Noy Holland on writing fiction, a form rooted in deft timing, accidents, and revelations.
“Maybe in the future I’ll feel compelled to write that kind of specific and current book, but right now I feel that my strength as a fiction writer is my ability to take a step back. I prefer to create a more metaphorical story that people can apply to a variety of situations, personal and political.” Electric Literature interviews Kazuo Ishiguro about his most recent novel, The Buried Giant, which our own Lydia Kiesling reviewed here.
When a professor of literature wrote Flannery O’Connor for a master key for interpreting her story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” he probably did not expect her particularly unimpressed reply: “Too much interpretation is certainly worse than too little, and where feeling for a story is absent, theory will not supply it.” (Via the ever-excellent Letters of Note.)
“I can tell you that, as of today, I don’t feel any different about Mr Whitehead, or his review, or my response.” Richard Ford doubles down on his reaction to a negative 2001 review by fellow novelist Colson Whitehead. (Said response, in case you missed it, was to tell Whitehead ‘you’re a kid, you should grow up,’ and spit in his face.) We hope Whitehead is laughing at home with his Pulitzer Prize, recently awarded for last year’s literary juggernaut The Underground Railroad. And as our own Emily St. John Mandel reminds us, there are far more gracious ways to respond to criticism.
Recommended viewing: Open Culture has tracked down two animated adaptations of Dostoevksy‘s work. There’s one of his short story “The Dream of a Ridiculous Man” “in full-on existentialist mode,” and slightly more ambitious (though dramatically abridged) short film of Crime and Punishment.
Jonathan Lethem thinks his work is taken too seriously. “Well, I was just watching Richard Pryor, and he says, ‘When you’re dating a white woman, and people don’t like it, you can’t really pretend. You can’t go, “Oh, she’s not with me.”‘ ‘You write the big, ambitious books, right?’ Well, I guess they are,” he said in an interview with Salon. He also discusses being equated with Jonathan Franzen and his new novel, Dissident Gardens.
If you’re like this writer, you’ve read enough by now about the scourge of writer’s block. The literature on authors having trouble producing literature is enough to sustain a whole genre by itself. Which is why it’s refreshing to read this article, which tackles another problem: the vexing, peculiar strain of overload known as reader’s block.