“I have come to realize how much I have, throughout my life, bought into the narrative of this alluring myth of personal responsibility and excellence. I realize how much I believe that all good things will come if I—if we—just work hard enough.” Year in Reading alum Roxane Gay writes for VQR Online about “The Price of Black Ambition.” Pair with our review of An Untamed State.
Picador’s Gabrielle Gantz is holding monthly conversations with bloggers, and she posts the results on the publishing house’s fantastic Tumblr. Here she interviews Aidan Flax-Clark, associate editor of Lapham’s Quarterly, and gets him to discuss the similarities between his research and The Matrix.
Powell’s Books teamed up with Rogue Ales and Spirits to create White Whale Ale. “Infused with the seafaring spirit of Moby-Dick,” White Whale Ale is sure to please any beer drinker in your family this holiday season – even if they did skip the Cetology sections of Melville’s classic.
Geoff Nicholson of the New York Times compares the rules of drinking and the rules of writing in light of the recent reissue of famous cocktail guide The Hour (with a new introduction by Daniel Handler, otherwise known as Lemony Snicket).
“I don’t want to settle for distraction; I want to look forward to reading my book with the palpitating excitement of a second date with someone I’ve already fallen for. I want to miss my stop. Ideally, I’ll miss a few.” While it can be easy to spot a beach, airplane, or cabin read, Adam Sternbergh‘s writes about finding the perfect “subway read” for the New York Times. From our archives: our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s essay on reading and writing on trains.
“The morning after the opening sentence took shape, Heller “arrived at work”—at the Merrill Anderson Company—“with my pastry and container of coffee and a mind brimming with ideas, and immediately in longhand put down on a pad the first chapter of an intended novel.” The handwritten manuscript totaled about 20 pages. He titled it Catch-18. The year was 1953.” Happy Birthday Joseph Heller, author of the anti-war classic Catch-22, born this day in 1923 in Coney Island, New York.
What writers are actually earning money? Over at Electric Literature, Lincoln Michel takes a look at the new Author Earnings report, which scours Amazon bestseller lists and extrapolates the data to make claims about the state of publishing and self-publishing. Here’s an older Millions piece by Edan Lepucki on self-publishing as supplemental and influential to the traditional route.