“This seems to me the much more complex human truth … that for every theorist of the physical, as with every brainless brawler out in front of a tavern, there is a spot in him in which he aspires to the spirit. Always the flickering of the spiritual in which we reach for better. This is the ambition that changes those who aspire to it.” Here is the latest installment in The Literary Hub’s brave, groundbreaking series “Rick Moody: Life Coach.” This week finds Moody urging his reader along a path of nonviolence. Last time he took on crying.
The final installment of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels, The Story of the Lost Child, hits shelves next week. Emma Adler at Electric Literature has compiled a helpful Ferrante Study Guide if you’re feeling a bit lost. Cora Currier’s Millions essay on “reading Italy” through Elena Ferrante’s body of work is an ideal complementary read.
"When I have an idea that will later, sadly, become a story or a poem, I have a sensation of receiving something. But I do not know if that “something” is given to me by something or someone or if it bursts out on its own." An excerpt from Borges's conversations with the Argentinian poet and essayist Osvaldo Ferrari on writing, memory, and God is now available on The New York Review of Books blog.
"I'm not a journalist, and I don't pretend to be one, and most of the pieces in there were assigned to me by Harper's, with these sort of maddening instructions of, you know, just go to a certain spot and kind of, you know, turn 350 degrees a few times and tell us what you see." Tom Scocca posts a five-part transcript of a phone interview he did with David Foster Wallace in February 1998. (Thanks, Nick.)
“Most writers … don’t ask questions of a journalist,” writes How to Read a Novelist author John Freeman. But what of those that do? Over the course of a fifteen year career, Freeman has found that “what the novelists asked of me told me [a great deal] about them,” and that a big problem with the standard format for author interviews, after all, is that “the conventions of the interview deprive us of one thing a novelist does quite a bit, which is ask questions.” (Bonus: Freeman will be in conversation with Jennifer Egan Thursday night at McNally Jackson.)
Frederick Douglass was one of the first people to use photography to control meaning. Picturing Frederick Douglass: An Illustrated Biography of the Nineteenth Century’s Most Photographed American catalogues his many portraits and how they contributed to our perception of Douglass. Our own Edan Lepucki writes about the place of slave narratives in fiction.