Over at ZYZZYVA, Christian Kiefer talks to playwright Octavio Solis and novelist Scott Hutchins about the craft of writing and the difference between writing plays and writing novels. “It takes a huge amount of hard labor, man, to harness the forces that we are using to make our stories. They may emerge whole cloth out of our need to know how we operate as humans, but they’re often clumsy unfinished beasts.” Kiefer’s new novel, The Animals, is one of the most anticipated books of 2015.
“There are many ways to define ‘success’ as a writer,” and Jeffrey Condran writes about his own path to and definition of writerly success for The Missouri Review‘s blog. Hint: it has something to do with craft, something to do with editing, and a lot to do with a certain magazine.
Ever seen Henry Kissinger make eyes at a geisha? Richard Nixon ham it up at the Grand Ole Opry? Or Betty Ford (a one-time Martha Graham dancer) take a turn on the Cabinet Room table? Legendary photographer David Hume Kennerly has. His retrospective at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica just came down, but many of the best images are still up at the Frank Pictures Gallery website. Kennerly also took the somewhat notorious picture of O.J. Simpson and family with President Ford (the one O.J. was arrested for trying to steal), and for which his retrospective–“If Only O.J. Had Called Me”–was named.
“Seidel scared himself with poetry, and us too. How had he done it?” John Jeremiah Sullivan presented the Hadada Award to Frederick Seidel at The Paris Review’s Spring Revel last month. You can read the full text of his speech and three of Seidel’s poems. This seems to be a much better week for Sullivan because he also just won the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award for his essay “I Placed a Jar in Tennessee.”
Poets and Writers sits down with Year in Reading alumnus Saeed Jones to talk writing, publishing, and BuzzFeed. “Creating change is about having a critical mass of several influences, but one is the right people, and creating a space where people feel that they can speak up and have these conversations and experiment.”
“Would I have carried myself with the same swagger, or faced adversity with such feminine resolve, without Albertine as my guide?…I was drawn to a striking, remote face—rendered violet on black—on a dust jacket proclaiming its author ‘a female Genet.’ It cost 99 cents, the price of a grilled cheese and coffee at the Waverly Diner, just across Sixth Avenue. I had a dollar and a subway token, but after reading the first few lines I was smitten—one hunger trumped another and I bought the book.” Patti Smith introduces Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin, recently rereleased by New Directions.
It’s impossible to deny that memoir writing is having a bit of a moment, as more and more major books delve deeply into authors’ lives for material (here’s looking at you, Knausgaard). But what happens when memoir meets straight history? According to The Canadian Press, both genres only become more interesting. “[People] think non-fiction is just boring, fuddy-duddy history books, [but] if you look at Canadian literature right now, non-fiction is incredibly exciting.”