Colson Whitehead has some advice: write the book that "scares you shitless." In a recent, wide-ranging interview with John Freeman, the Underground Railroad author talks about why he wrote his latest novel, along with his methods for sussing out good ideas. You could also read our review of The Underground Railroad.
We'd been planning to brush up on our French, Swahili, and Klingon this summer, but a new contender might just grab us away. You can now learn to speak Dothraki - a fictional tongue from George R. R. Martin's A Song of Fire and Ice series and the hit TV show Game of Thrones - with this $18 software course. Next: High Valyrian?
"Post-truth" has been named word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries, reports The Guardian. Considered an adjective, its definition is “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” The Dictionaries report its first use in 1992 by the late Serbian-American playwright Steve Tesich in relation to Iran-Contra and the first Gulf War. And we thought Colbert's "truthiness" was funny.
Hannah Withers and Lauren Ross have written about today's state of publishing for McSweeney's. Their conclusion? Young people read more than you. According to Laura Goode, though, moms are reading more YA novels than their kids. Either way, everyone can start reading in the bathtub thanks to waterproof paperbacks.
"Skipping or skimming parts of a narrative should not only be expected but encouraged, particularly if an author is writing without clarity or purpose or showing off. Life’s too short to slog through some smarty-pants attempt to demonstrate a mastery of mechanical engineering or botany." Adam Kirsch and Anna Holmes face off for The New York Times Bookends column about whether there are right and wrong ways to read a book.
The estimable New York Times Magazine profiled Patricia Lockwood this week, and in the process printed the phrase “tit-pics” for probably the first time in the Grey Lady’s history. Lockwood’s name should be no stranger to Millions readers, of course, as I’ve previously steered readers’ attention toward The Poet Laureate of Twitter’s works in the past (such as this one, and this one, and this one, too.) As a bonus, Dwight Garner reviewed her latest collection, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, for the paper as well.
"In order to overcome their creative challenges, the authors I interviewed didn’t need to write prettier sentences: They needed to become more disciplined, more generous, braver. Literature seems to require these qualities of us, somehow, both in writing and in reading." Joe Fassler's "By Heart" series at The Atlantic provides us with another year's worth of writing wisdom, including advice from Alexander Chee, Michael Chabon, Lydia Millet, et al. We also highly recommend the conversation between Chee, Emily Barton, and Whitney Terrell about the decade each of them took to see their novels realized in the world.